Corporate Rules: The Real World of Business Regulation in Canada

How government regulators are failing the public interest

by Bruce Campbell

Corporations and their lobbyists have captured control of most Canadian regulatory bodies. How this happened is documented by field experts, insiders, academics and whistleblowers.

This book offers documentation for the first time of how corporations have captured Canadian government agencies set up to protect the public.

Twenty-one authors, experts in their fields, describe how federal agencies do their job to regulate industries -- oil, nuclear, pharmaceuticals, construction, international mining, finance and more. In virtually every case, they find that the agency has set aside the public interest to favour corporate interests.

They also find that government legislation, policies limiting regulations, ongoing working relationships with “stakeholders” that often take place in secret, lobbying, financing of regulatory agencies by regulated industries, and job movement between industry and government all combine to produce these captive regulatory agencies.

The result is that government continuously and often disastrously fails to protect the public interest. The results are a degraded environment, increased inequality in society, loss of trust in government, and avoidable deaths.

Editor Bruce Campbell concludes the book with a set of proposals that would restore the primacy of the public interest in the work of government agencies.

About the Author

Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is an Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University; Senior Fellow, Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University; and former Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. He is the author of many books on public policy, most recently The Lac-Megantic Disaster: Public Betrayal, Justice Denied which is an authoritative examination of how deregulation combined with bad management led to a catastrophe which killed 47 people in 2013. He lives in Ottawa.

The contributors to this volume are all distinguished experts in their respective fields.


Building on his groundbreaking and profoundly disturbing work on how regulatory capture in the transportation sector put corporate interests above the public good, Bruce Campbell has brought together top experts to give us a comprehensive look behind the veil at how, and in whose interest, Canada’s governments regulate. This should be essential if unsettling reading for all those involved in the regulatory process, and for citizens interested in making government better.

Alex Himelfarb, Former Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet

Anyone wanting to understand how it is that corporations manage to control our world so completely should read this important and powerful book. In an insightful collection of essays, Corporate Rules tells the story of how feeble government regulators are unable and unwilling to force corporations to behave in the public interest. No wonder today’s capitalism is so unsatisfying for all but the truly rich.

Linda McQuaig, Journalist and Author of The Sport & Prey of Capitalists

Bruce Campbell bravely confronts the problem and implications of regulatory capture, challenging Canadians to realign our regulators with the public interest and resist being clouded by corporate influence. This is a must-read for anyone that cares about how we can strengthen our governance institutions and guard against avoidable disasters.

Vass Bednar, Executive Director, Master of Public Policy in Digital Society Program

Subjects (BISAC)


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