Fighting Foreign Corruption Act (Bill S-14)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly support the bill. I think Canada needs to bring our enforcement standards to the level that the OECD would see as the highest level of enforcement.

My question is a more general one. I think we have to face the fact that we have some problems that we never thought we would see as Canadians where corruption is becoming a larger issue. People are seeing it. We have the instance of SNC-Lavalin, we know that AECL used officials in the past. They say they were arm’s-length, but we did have a South Korean contractor go to jail for the work in trying to entice that country to buy a CANDU reactor.

We have fallen on the Transparency International corruption index from sixth place, but we are still among the best in the world at tenth place, but at the time when we see charges of bribery and arrests of municipal officials in different places across Canada, we have seen a disturbing trend of lack of ethics, the kinds of things that are not governed by a rule book, but come from the sense that we actually care about how we are seen in the world and conduct ourselves in ways we would be proud for our children to hear about, not just in the way that we hope we are alright if we do not get caught.

Is there something more than can be done in terms of leadership to clean up our act as a society and practise good ethics, habituate ourselves to values instead of to vices in the way we organize our lives?

Bob Dechert: Mr. Speaker, enforcement is very important. The Prime Minister made a very important announcement in London last week about legislation that will be presented soon requiring Canadian companies to disclose all payments that they make to foreign governments. That is a big step forward.

The enforcement provisions under Bill S-14 and its penalty provisions are very important. They would be among the highest penalties in the world. Some have wondered why they should be. In fact, the penalties under Bill S-14 would be higher in some cases than the penalties for domestic corruption, but that just means that the Canadian Criminal Code probably needs to be updated as well.

We are setting the bar higher with the bill and we are sending a clear and strong message to Canadian companies and to people all around the world that Canada will not tolerate this kind of corruption, either here at home or abroad.

Another measure that I mentioned in my speech is that Canadian companies that engage in foreign bribery and are convicted of foreign bribery will no longer be able to bid on Canadian government contracts. That is a huge disincentive for them to do these kinds of things abroad. We think the combined suite of penalties and enforcement mechanisms we are introducing today would send a really strong message to Canadian companies and everyone in the world they need to compete fairly and ethically to succeed.