UNIT 01: DEFINITIONS OF CORRUPTION OBJECTIVES:
After completing this unit, you should be able to:
• define the primary terms and concepts used in the study of corruption,
scandal and political ethics
• assess the importance of ethical principles in a democratic society
• recognize the differences between corruption and scandal.
Welcome to the course!
In the first week, you should make yourselves familiar through the readings with the
definition of terms and the concepts of corruption, scandal and political ethics.
Let’s get started by reviewing some of the terms you will encounter as you explore the
many forms of corruption.
Fraud – the theft of money, goods or services by a person in a position of public trust
Bribery – offering or accepting illegal payment of money, goods or services in exchange
for favours rendered or promised
Influence-peddling – Accepting an advantage or non-monetary benefit in exchange for a
Lying– deliberately misleading the public, as in the reasons given by U.S. presidents to
justify the wars in Vietnam and Iraq
Conflict-of-Interest – when elected representatives or public officials put themselves a
position where they (or their families) receive a private benefit from decisions they take
in their public capacity.
A conflict-of-interest may be a real conflict, as in the Sinclair Stevens case, or it may
simply be an apparent conflict, as created by Paul Martin’s family ownership of Canada
Steamship Lines when he was minister of finance. Both real and apparent conflicts
should be avoided.
Patronage – using public funds to reward one’s political supporters for services rendered
or anticipated (Examples: Senate appointments are patronage appointments when they are
given to the party faithful; the Sponsorship affair was essentially a patronage scandal –
the Liberal government giving public money to Liberal advertising agencies). Nepotism– a variation of patronage: hiring or giving business to one’s relatives.
Cronyism– another variation of patronage: hiring or giving business to one’s personal
pals (example: the appointment of Mila Mulroney’s hairdresser Rinaldo to the board of a
Toll-gating– a practice in which a person or company receiving a government contract is
expected to remit a percentage of the proceeds to the party in power.
Patronage can be extremely corrupt, even illegal (example: sponsorship scandal).
Patronage can be benign (example: giving a job or contract to a person who is so
obviously qualified that he or she could have gotten the business even if they were not
friends or supporters of the government).
Patronage was essential to the building of the country (example: the construction of the
The federal government has b