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Canadians aren't renowned for being ruthless types, but when it comes to getting ahead in the workplace, a lot of employees are tempted to snitch, snoop, sabotage and generally bend the moral rules, according to a new survey.

Twenty per cent of Canadian men and 15 per cent of women admitted to sabotaging a co-worker to gain a career advantage, according to an online survey done by book publisher Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. in Toronto. That figure for Canadians overall was 17 per cent.

The survey by Harlequin, which is owned by Torstar Corp., also found that 47 per cent of women and 37 per cent of men - or 42 per cent of Canadians overall - said they had been tempted to wish failure on a friend or colleague because of jealousy over their success.

As well, more than half of women - 56 per cent - and 39 per cent of men, said they had peeked at a co-worker's pay stub to compare how they weighed in on the compensation scale. The figure was 48 per cent overall for Canadians, according to the survey of 3,003 North American respondents, including 1,429 in Canada.

Stealing credit was another black eye for Canadians. Twenty per cent of men and 15 per cent of women admitted to taking credit for someone else's work.

And 21 per cent of women and 14 per cent of men said they think it's all right to lie about their qualifications on a résumé.

The dishonesty extended to stealing from the company: 71 per cent of women and 61 per cent of men admitting to pilfering from the supply cabinet, the survey found.

As well, 16 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men admitting to misusing company expense accounts.

The survey revealed that Canadians can be even more conniving than our neighbours to the south.

The overall 17 per cent of Canadian workers who sabotaged colleagues was actually higher than the 13 per cent in the rest of North America.

And the overall 21 per cent who'd taken credit for someone else's work here was higher than the 12 per cent elsewhere, the survey found.

Workers on both sides of the border were equally likely to take a peek at a co-worker's pay slip or rat out a boss to his or her superior for mistakes he or she had made, in hopes of furthering their own career. They also were almost equally tempted to wish a colleague would slip up.

While it may be a surprise to find Canadians score worse than Americans on ethical issues, the results may actually show that, overall, Canadians are actually more honest, says Michelle Renaud, senior publicity manager for Harlequin.

She was a co-editor of the study along with Tracy Isaacs, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Western Ontario.

"I think it's actually an indication of our underlying honesty that we are more willing to confess about crossing the line," Ms. Renaud says.

Ms. Renaud adds that she hopes all this is a temporary stain on the reputation of Canadians.

"There has been a temptation to bend the rules because it is such a competitive job market. People are doing what they can to get an edge," she says.

"I'd like to believe that it represents the stress of the current economy, rather than a permanent distortion of our moral compasses."

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