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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

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

So it's not a UN organization; it's a self-appointed...?

3:40 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

It's an NGO, a non-governmental organization.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Okay. I think that's important.

Thank you for coming.

Which countries or continents are most likely to be involved in corruption practices? Can you narrow it down for us? Where are you finding the most difficulty?

3:40 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

When I first looked at this problem early in 2005, what I noticed was the areas that were mentioned in my opening remarks in terms of activities, so it's where those activities occur, where extractive industries operate, where there's developmental assistance, where there's disaster recovery assistance. Those are high-risk areas.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

You don't find, for instance—not to pick on anybody—eastern African countries as opposed western African, or South American countries as opposed to Central American? What kinds of governments are in place when you find corruption practices more prevalent?

3:40 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

In my examination of the risk factors, I did not find that it was the type of government that was in place. I've written a paper that says you could look at a variety of factors, including the type of government, the education system, the health care system, the social assistance systems inside of countries. These might also be linked to whether or not there's a prevalence of corruption.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Could you provide that information to the committee? I'd like to see that.

3:45 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

It's not in a list format. It's in paper format as a document, but that's not a problem.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Okay. Maybe we could see that.

Do you find that Canadian companies are cooperative? Obviously, this takes a level of cooperation if you suspect there's corruption taking place and it has to be reported, but do you find Canadian governments have a desire to operate on a level playing field that has respect for laws?

3:45 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

Generally, the answer to your question is yes, I find they are respectful. They are interested. The anti-corruption movement globally has been gaining momentum. There's quite a bit of interest from other countries in looking to Canada for assistance in their anti-corruption enforcement and the corporate social responsibility side.

Part of the United Nations Convention against Corruption looked at those countries that are developed to also provide assistance in capacity building in other countries, in less developed countries.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

This is a UN charter. Do you find that across the board there is good participation from other countries as well? Canada is not the only extraction nation. Companies from Canada aren't the only ones. Do you find there's good cooperation? I'm going to pick on a country like China. Do you find they're involved in trying to root out this problem as well?

3:45 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

My own experience is that yes, China is interested in the global anti-corruption movement. For a number of years China has chaired the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, which is an association with affiliations to the United Nations' UNODC. It has provided them with support in terms of their governance and establishing that association in the first instance.

I do find that they are interested. They put on an annual anti-corruption seminar as well as an annual meeting, which usually has a workshop on the side. They get the anti-corruption authorities together, which would include the RCMP and quite a number of other countries in terms of participation.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Obviously, if there is a problem and if it involves another country, you would need a good working relationship.

My next question would be, does that exist right across the board? If there's a problem with a certain country, if there seems to be an element of corruption with a certain individual, there are a number of countries that have extraction companies. Can you pick up the phone and speak to the Americans? Can you pick up the phone and speak to the Scandinavians, the Chinese, or whoever it is, and will they work with you in an investigation?

3:45 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

There are not pre-established relationships with all countries. However, in some of the countries that you've mentioned there are existing relationships between investigators on the RCMP side and investigators in those foreign countries. If there wasn't an existing relationship, there would be an investigation where there was an opportunity for collaboration and cooperation to build that relationship.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

I think we've been at this since 2008 in the United Nations. I think that's when we joined.

3:45 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

October 2, 2007.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Would you say that we're heading in the right direction, that there's definitely improvement and we're starting to see some cooperation, that we're starting to make some headway?

3:45 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

That's the answer I was hoping for.

Thank you.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dean Allison

Thank you. That takes you to seven minutes.

Mr. Eyking for seven minutes, please.

April 30th, 2012 / 3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Thank you, Mr. Foster, for coming today. It's always fun to come to committees and answer the questions. I have three lines of questioning.

This extraction industry transparency initiative, I guess they call it EITI, was already brought up by the NDP. We had a witness here a few weeks ago who stated that one of the biggest problems in development in underdeveloped countries is, “Where's the money?” I think he mentioned $1 trillion is floating around the globe in banks and in the wrong hands and is not going to where it needs to go in the development of countries and to the treasuries where it's needed.

There's a Globe and Mail article that was already mentioned. I think it's recognized that the European Parliament has signed on with this initiative. Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands are following, and Canada is kind of hanging back and not doing that. The United States has the Dodd-Frank initiative.

Is there any reason we're not signing on? Is there any particular reason that our government is probably afraid to get in there and do this? Is there a problem with our transparency here?

3:50 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

I don't know that there's a problem with transparency in terms of Canadian companies and how they are operating or why they would be hesitant to join this particular initiative.

A number of organizations are pursuing anti-corruption on a global or regional basis, with international operations in mind. There's the Organization of American States, the OECD, the United Nations, Transparency International, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and a few others I haven't mentioned.

As to whether the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is a good idea for them, I don't know that I would necessarily be able to comment for business.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

You don't see any particular reason why we shouldn't.

It just seems like the right thing to do if all these other countries are doing it. You know, it kind of looks bad on us.

We don't have a law like the United States has that does what this initiative is doing. You would think that it would just be common sense to join up. It's kind of a motherhood thing.

3:50 p.m.

Director, Commercial Crime Branch, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Supt Stephen Foster

I'm not sure how businesses might analyze it. Would they say that on the one hand this is a very good thing to do and we should do it? Or would they, on the other hand, wonder whether, if they're overly transparent, they would still have a competitive edge. Would that be lost in the global marketplace?

What I'm saying is that I don't know, but I can see two sides to it.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Most of your line of work is, of course, investigating wrongdoing or whatever internationally.

Lately we've been getting a lot of groups, especially indigenous groups, from the Philippines and the Peruvian Amazon basin complaining about Canadian mining or extraction companies.

Yes, these are Canadian companies that are doing what the rules are in that country. But we have quite strict rules in our own country. Do you see that we should have more legislation to make sure that Canadian companies are following guidelines from Canada when they do extraction in these other countries? Do you think there should be tougher regulations or some protocol there?