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.
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.
Head office: Ottawa, Ontario
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
Learn more about the Business Council of Canada at LittleSis.org
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.