Canada's Global Reputation is Fading Fast Amidst Scandal, Environmental Destruction, and Cruelty

Commentary by Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Canada's global reputation is falling.

According to Transparency International, the global anti-corruption watchdog list, Canada has dropped from a high of fifth ranking nation to twelve in a list of 146 nations surveyed.

A twelfth place position is still better than the U.S. position of number 17 but a drop from fifth to twelfth in a year is a significant indicator that something may be rotten in the Great White North.

Aside from the $100 million dollar slush fund for Liberal Party loyalists using money earmarked for Canadian Unity promotion, Canada has other signs of a trend downward in international public opinion.

There are investigations into bribery attempts by the Liberals to lure Conservative backbenchers over to the government side.

The recent sponsorship scandal saw a hundred million tax dollars disappear into politicians' pockets for work that was never done or completed to promote federalism in Canada.

It was the worse case of massive misappropriation and misuse of public funds in the history of Canada and the responsibility lies squarely with the Liberal government of Canada, the government of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and the current Prime Minster Paul Martin, who was also involved in the scandal.

These things have recently caught the attention of Transparency International, but for many Canadians, corruption has a long history in Canada.

It was certainly well documented in Paul Palango's excellent book Above the Law. Palango worked with former Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Rod Stamler to expose one seedy story after another of fraud, bid-rigging, influence peddling, and stock manipulation.

It covers the notorious Hamilton harbor dredging scandal and other sordid tales of Canadian politicians who not only felt they were above the law, they knew they were above the law.

And then there is Stevie Cameron's voluminous tome On the Take - Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years that documents the scandals that brought down the Prime Minister Brian Mulroney government but not Mulroney himself - a master criminal who continues to be above the law and on the take.

Having been raised in Canada myself, I've always marveled how Canada has done such an efficient cover-up over they years. If Canada placed fifth in the list of least corrupted nations, it makes me wonder how much more corrupt other nations must be to rank lower.

This year Transparency International ranks Finland as the most uncorrupted nation followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

So it seems like Singapore has replaced Canada for the number five spot.

Oh Canada, my home and native land, how have you sunk so low?.

One of the reasons is that it is a nation now run by opportunistic politicians who see politics as a stepping stone to corporate board positions.

Prime Minster Brian Mulroney's government went down to ignoble defeat on corruption charges two decades ago but Mulroney is now making more money than ever in the private sector from all the corporations he doled out favors to while in office.

The present Prime Minister is immensely wealthy already as the owner of the largest fleet of Canadian merchant ships. But being rich is not as good as being richer still and Paul Martin is now in the hot-seat over the bribery scandal that is now scorching the political landscape of Canada.

Add to this, the image of Canada as a nation that clubs baby seals, over fishes its cod, destroys its wild salmon streams, promotes the sport hunting of Grizzly and Polar bears, makes it illegal to take a photograph of a seal being killed, and you have a nation on a downward spiral of popularity.

Over the years I have fought the government of Canada and the provinces on conservation issues. I have opposed them on the seal slaughter, on illegal whaling, on overfishing, on salmon farms, on aerial wolf hunts, and on a bison eradication scheme.

It has been my experience that Canada and the Provinces always side with the money interests. They support the fishing corporations, the big game hunting organizations, the salmon farmers, and never give the time of day to conservationists and environmentalists.

In over thirty years of confrontations with government and moneyed interests in Canada, not once have I ever been invited to sit down to have a dialogue with any politician. Every request for a meeting has been denied leaving me with campaigns of confrontation as the only means to express my opposition.

As a result the government of Canada has arrested me many times and put me on trial at great expense. But they never had the evidence to get a conviction because the arrests were political and not criminal.

In 1993, the Federal government charged me with three counts of criminal mischief for ordering foreign drag trawlers off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. They put me on trial in Newfoundland, a place they knew that I was detested for my opposition against sealing. I did not damage any property nor did I cause a single injury but the prosecutor argued that there was a potential for me to have damaged property and to injure people, and therefore, I was facing two times life plus ten years - for protecting fish.

I was acquitted. It was not the first time and it won't be the last time that Canada has arrested me and unsuccessfully tried me.

This year Canada inhumanely slaughtered over 325,000 seal pups. As a result there is an international boycott of Canadian seafood. This month, all of our warnings about salmon farming that were ignored over the years came back to haunt Canadian politicians when it was discovered that farmed salmon carry high amounts of toxic metals and PCB's in their flesh.

A government that ignores its environmentalists and social activists and listens only to its corporate contributors is a government that is not responsibly representing the interests of the people today and in the future.

The Liberal government of Canada has become entrenched. No matter how corrupt or stubborn it becomes, the Liberals know that the political reality is that there is no other electable party in the country for the time. All the other parties are too fractured and disorganized or represent special interest.

However, the Liberals represent a special interest also, and that is the unifying interest of greed.