Business Council of Canada

The Business Council of Canada (BCC) is one of Canada’s most powerful corporate advocacy organizations. Its members are CEOs representing over 150 major corporations. The BCC promotes neoliberal policies (including free trade agreements, corporate tax cuts, deregulation and austerity) and has played an influential role in public policy going back to the 1970s. It was formerly known as the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Business Council on National Issues.

Why the top 50?

With executive ties to government and a member base representing companies that employ 1.7 million Canadians,8 the BCC is a key influencer of government policy at the federal level. The BCC suggests that Canada should increase its current rate of fossil fuel exploitation in order to protect oil and gas industries9—tacitly sanctioning Canada’s failure to uphold its responsibilities under the Paris Agreement. This puts it on our list as a key legitimator.

Key Stats

Founded: 1976

Head office: Ottawa, Ontario

In Depth

The BCC engages directly with governments to promote its policy preferences. In its submissions to the federal government’s 2018 budget review, for example, the BCC outlined its principles clearly—namely, encouraging government policies that increase privatization, spur capital growth and “strengthen competitiveness.”1 It also promoted Canada’s future as a resource-based economy, suggesting that pipeline approvals should be swift and accommodating to corporate interests.


The BCC was a key champion of free trade agreements with the United States in the 1980s and ’90s. It is also a strong advocate for new trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well as trade agreements with China and India, suggesting that “Canada should be a leader in opening markets around the world.”2

Given the above policy preferences, the BCC’s position on climate action is unsurprising: it calls largely for market-based solutions, while simultaneously promoting oil and gas as the backbone of the Canadian economy. For example, a recent report titled Canada’s Oil Sands: A Vital National Asset promotes the oil sands as one of the cornerstones of Canada’s economy, suggesting that its greenhouse gas and land use impacts are minimal.3 The BCC is in favour of carbon pricing, but simultaneously cautions government that it must “offset” any burden for “energy intensive trade exposed sectors,” adding that Canadian exporters should not be disadvantaged relative to competitors in other jurisdictions without carbon pricing. The BCC further suggests that carbon taxation should be made revenue neutral for industry through corresponding corporate tax cuts.4

The BCC exerts ongoing influence over policy, particularly at the federal level. For instance, in The Big Stall, Donald Gutstein details the similarities between the Liberal government’s 2016 “Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change” and the BCC’s declaration nine years earlier, “Clean Growth: Building a Canadian Environmental Superpower.” Gutstein observes that “aside from a focus on clean growth—a declaration that growth will continue whatever ‘clean’ comes to mean—the parallels in the documents are remarkable.”5

Through its adjunct organization, the Business/Higher Education Roundtable, the BCC also works to strengthen ties between academia and the private sector. As organizations such as the Canadian Association of University Teachers have pointed out, private interests infiltrating academia can significantly jeopardize the integrity of research.6

The Roundtable includes a number of board members with fossil fuel connections, such as

  • Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary and former Enbridge director
  • Dawn Farrell, president and CEO of TransAlta Corporation
  • Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco Corporation
  • Donald Lindsay, president and CEO of Teck Resources Limited
  • David McKay, president and CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada, a major financier of the oil and gas industry7
Network Map

Learn more about the Business Council of Canada at

About the database

The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

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  1. John Manley, “Letter to the Minister of Finance on Budget 2018,” December 13, 2017, 2,
  2. Manley, “Letter to the Minister of Finance,” 5.
  3. Business Council of Canada, Canada’s Oil Sands: A Vital National Asset, February 1, 2017,
  4. John Manley, “Letter to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Response to the Technical Paper on the Federal Carbon Pricing Backstop,” June 28, 2017,
  5. Donald Gutstein, The Big Stall: How Big Oil and Think Tanks Are Blocking Action on Climate Change in Canada (Toronto: Lorimer, 2018), 205.
  6. Canadian Association of University Teachers, Open for Business: On What Terms? An Analysis of 12 Collaborations between Canadian Universities and Corporations, Donors and Governments, November 2013,
  7. “Members,” Business/Higher Education Roundtable, accessed January 17, 2018,
  8. About the Council,” Business Council of Canada, accessed March 26, 2019,
  9. Mullen, Denise, and Jock Finlayson. “OPINION: The High-Stakes International Oil Game That Canada’s Losing….” Business Council of British Columbia, 24 Mar. 2019,