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The Toronto and Montreal Mayoral Scandals: Anything but Contradictory to Canada's International Image to the Informed Observer


In further expounding on the main source of Canada's misconstrued international image, "the CPI is a composite index which draws upon a series of surveys mainly aimed at Western business leaders and expert assessments of perceived corruption" (Andersson and Heywood). Results of the survey become subject to cultural bias and misinterpretation because the Western respondents answer the survey according to specific business transactions in a country that is not their own. The CPI score is additionally dependent on the total number of countries being surveyed. Put another way, not only is the score tallied according to the perception of a business person of a different country, but the score is computed according to how many other countries participated in the survey. Thus, the ranking invariably does not represent the objective facts but becomes, instead, a reflection of politics. The critical problem, in a few words, is that the CPI has a powerful influence on the way people think about corruption in the world, yet Transparency International's methods are unscientific, excessively subjective, and highly prone to error.

If the above theoretical critique is not enough, the facts about corruption in Canada should speak for themselves. In the last nine months, investigations have revealed that Canada's political landscape is just as mired in dirty dealings as many other countries in the world. For example, Montreal's now former mayor, Gerald Tremblay, resigned after he was charged with bribery and possible connections to organized crime (Simpson). Then, London, Ontario Mayor, Joe Fontana, was charged with fraud and other crimes, including using government funds to pay for his son's wedding reception back in 2005; Fontana has yet to be impeached or prosecuted (Simpson). Next, during his 23-year service as Mayor to Quebec's third largest city, Laval, Gilles Vaillancourt was charged with operating an "organized and structured network" of criminals and gangsters (Simpson). If one adds these cases and the many others not noted in this report to the corruption assessment of Canada (e.g., the notorious Mayor known for spitting his gum in the street and kicking kids in the face), it becomes obvious that Transparency International might want to re-compute its scorecard for Canada.

In the end, the political scandals in Toronto and Montreal have captured the imaginations of the global audience because they appear to expose a widespread problem with corruption in a nation that many have long perceived as an international poster child of political uprightness and integrity. The problem, however, is that this winsome international image of Canada is a gross misrepresentation of the truth. Not only are Transparency International's research efforts methodologically flawed, but the organization's reports do little more than feed the political perceptions machine. Additionally, the many substantiated cases of corruption in Canada provide sufficient evidence of the realities of widespread and longstanding corruption in the country. The conclusion can, therefore, be drawn that the scandals in Toronto and Montreal are anything but contradictory to Canada's international image – at least, that is, for the more informed observer who is capable of looking beyond politicized perceptions.

Works Cited

Andersson, Staffan and Paul M. Heywood. "The Politics of Perception: Use and Abuse of Transparency International's Approach to Measuring Corruption." Political Studies 57 (2009): 746-767. Print.

Argitis, Theophilos and Frederic Tomesco. "'Pristine' Canada Mired in Scandal after Montreal Arrest." Bloomberg. 18 June 2013. Web. 5 July 2013.

Crane, Andrew and Dirk Matten. "Canada's Corruption Problem." Sustainable Business Forum. 6 June 2013. Web. 5 July 2013.

Simpson, Connor. "What the Heck Is the matter with the Mayors of Canada?" The Atlantic Wire. 17 June 2013 Web. 5 July 2013.

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