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Evidence of meeting #34 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was rcmp.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Stephen Foster  Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Gisèle Rivest  Officer in Charge, Operations of National Interest and International Corruption, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Christopher Dunford  Senior Research Fellow, Freedom from Hunger

3:50 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

I wouldn't be in a good position to comment with respect to unspecified legislation that hasn't been proposed, nor am I in a good position to propose legislation with respect to how Canadian companies are operating abroad.

We are encouraging Canadian companies to have good corporate social responsibility policies, compliance policies, and transparency within those countries.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

You don't have the capacity to investigate them and make sure they're doing that. They have to follow them on their own.

3:50 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

If they run afoul of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in terms of bribing a foreign public official, we have the power to investigate that offence.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

The present government is pushing for development and aid to be kind of handled by companies. That's what our project is all about.

Should there be legislation so that if that is taking place we can monitor these companies and how they're helping with foreign aid? Should there be better oversight? Should your department be involved in making sure that money goes right...?

SNC-Lavelin and how they're spending money is in the news right now, but that's not technically aid money. That being said, if it were aid money, would you have the capacity to follow those dollars?

3:50 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

If an offence were related to that, we would be able to attempt, in the context of an investigation, to follow the funding that was, say, removed illicitly or used for a bribe.

What you described sounded like perhaps an ongoing regulatory function. I'm not sure I'd be able to comment with respect to whether that was required for legislation. I would perhaps direct you to ask the minister.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

You probably don't have the legislative tools to deal with that at present.

3:55 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

It sounds like they don't exist yet.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

That's right.

If a company had aid money, and they were supposed to help with a water system, for instance, in Africa—I'm just using a hypothetical situation—and a complaint were made, would you have the tools to investigate? For instance, if that village said, “We didn't get our water system,” and they put the complaint to you, do you have the capacity to investigate that?

3:55 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

My understanding of your hypothetical is that it isn't something that's covered by the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. It might be something that might be...it depends where the representation is made. If it was a representation made in Canada, with respect to how funds would be used in a foreign country and that caused the Government of Canada to part with that funding, then that could be investigated from here as well as a fraud.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Okay.

There is some grey area or tools that could be used.

3:55 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

There are quite a number of offences in the Criminal Code that relate to fraud.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dean Allison

Thanks, Mr. Eyking.

We're going to start our second round, which will be five minutes, and we're going to start over with Ms. Brown.

April 30th, 2012 / 3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm going to be very quick, Mr. Foster, because I know that my colleague has some questions, too.

I have been in some countries where there have been some questionable practices. In fact, when I checked into a hotel in one country, I was told if I wanted to see money exchange hands to come downstairs at 2 o'clock in the morning, and bags of money would exchange hands. I could watch it.

I guess my question really is, what needs to be in place for anti-corruption strategies to work, and how can Canada be helpful in assisting developing countries to put in place anti-corruption strategies?

I'll turn it over to my colleague and let him put his questions, and maybe we can wrap all of these in together. Is that okay? Is he going to have time?

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dean Allison

He'll get some time.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

He's going to have time? Okay.

I'll turn the floor over to you.

3:55 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

Your question was, what needs to be in place?

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

What needs to be in place for anti-corruption strategies to work, and how can Canada help developing countries build anti-corruption strategies?

3:55 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

If I understand, your question is quite broad, but I think the United Nations Convention against Corruption is an anti-corruption strategy. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, their anti-bribery convention is also part of a strategy.

The cooperation between enforcement, government, and the private sector are the things that need to be in place, and they seem to be coming in to place, if I understood your question.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

As the RCMP, are you available if a request comes from a government to assist in capacity building? That's one of the things that Canada is doing, and doing well. I've met with other parliamentarians in other countries, in developing countries, where they're asking for assistance in building the structures they need, and Canada has been generous in giving that assistance.

Is the RCMP available through any kind of a mechanism to assist in giving them that kind of direction?

3:55 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

To the extent that the RCMP has been asked, where it has been possible, we have assisted with capacity building. For example, in relation to Mexican authorities, we provided them with the expertise of one individual from the commercial crime branch to assist them in creating their own course, using their own laws, using their own subject matter. We provided them with the expertise to build their own course in their own context.

In relation to China, we've provided them with ongoing assistance in terms of understanding how Canada delivers its international anti-corruption program in terms of the enforcement side, with the two dedicated teams that we have and a focus on not only the enforcement but preventing, detecting, investigating, and prosecuting.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

In cooperation with those strategies, do we need to see judicial systems in place as well?

4 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

Could you slightly elaborate on your question?

4 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Pinpointing anti-corruption is of no assistance to a developing country if there aren't mechanisms to prosecute that. So having judicial systems in place...I expect you would need to see that working as well.

4 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

Yes. You would need to see that working as well. That is part of the work that's done by the United Nations in relation to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

And the OECD's anti-bribery working group does peer reviews. Part of that peer review process is a review of the enforcement side, the prosecution side, to make sure there are laws in place that criminalize domestic corruption and international corruption in terms of bribing a foreign public official.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dean Allison

Thank you.