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Minister brags about Canadian brand, despite domination of World Bank corruption list

With Canada making headlines for dominating the World Bank's blacklist of corrupt companies, federal International Trade Minister Ed Fast bragged about the trustworthiness of the country's brand.

"As I mentioned in my speech earlier, the Canada brand is among the most well liked and trusted in the world," Fast told reporters following his speech to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention in Vancouver. "I know that from personal experience having travelled to more than 40 different countries around the world."

The Financial Post reported earlier this week that of 250 companies on the World Bank's list of companies barred from bidding on its global projects under its fraud and corruption policy, 117 are Canadian.

Of those, 115 are affiliates of SNC Lavalin, their blacklisting the result of the investigation into the Padma Bridge project in Bangladesh.

"You're referencing one company," Fast said in Vancouver. "In fact, the large majority of Canadian companies do business abroad ethically. They do so in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

"Having met with them already, and having plans to meet with many other companies in that sector, they are committed to doing business ethically, doing it the right way, because that really is the Canada brand."

Fast also said the federal government supports projects, including Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, to get Canadian resources to international markets. A joint review panel on the project is expected to release a decision by year end.

"I'm not going to pre-judge the outcome of that process," said Fast. "I know that we very much respect that process, we respect Canada's regulatory review process and we're following it very closely. We'll make sure when we make a decision it will be in the best interests of Canada."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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