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Political Science Economic Policy

Corporate Rules: The Real World of Business Regulation in Canada

How government regulators are failing the public interest

by (author) Bruce Campbell

James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers
Initial publish date
Apr 2022
Economic Policy, History & Theory, Social Policy
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price

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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 is a former Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, one of Canada's leading independent think tanks. He is the author of three major reports and a number of media commentaries on The Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster. For his work on Lac-Mégantic, Bruce was awarded a Law Foundation of Ontario Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship and spent 2016 as a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. Throughout his career, Bruce has written numerous reports on economic policy, trade and investment, Canada-US-relations, and the political economy of oil. His commentaries have appeared in major newspapers and online news sites across Canada. His previous books include the edited volumes Living with Uncle: Canada-US Relations in an Age of Empire and Medicare: Facts, Myths, Problems & Promise. Bruce is currently Adjunct Professor, York University, Faculty of Environmental Studies, and Senior Fellow, Ryerson University, Centre for Free Expression. He lives in Ottawa.

Bruce Campbell's profile page

Editorial Reviews

An eye-opening and meticulously researched study of the fallout from a 40-year neoliberal project to strip the Canadian state of its power to rein in corporate greed. Read it and imagine how government might again plan, ban, and regulate in the interests of people and the planet.


Managing editor, The Breach, author, The Trudeau Formula

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.


Former Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet

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.


Executive Director, Master of Public Policy in Digital Society Program

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.


Journalist and Author of The Sport & Prey of Capitalists

For years, Bruce Campbell has been presciently warning of regulatory capture in Canada — the sad truth of federal and provincial governments and senior public “servants” whose cozy and sycophantic relationships with the very corporations they are supposed to regulate undermine our safety. In this collection, the reality of this democratic distortion is laid bare, across numerous sectors — energy, pharmaceuticals, construction, transportation and finance. Not only has our immediate safety been compromised, but as the chapters on the petroleum industry document, this dynamic has allowed the oil companies to systematically block progress on the defining emergency of our time. For all those who wrestle with the sick feeling that the foxes are minding the hen house, well, you aren’t wrong. Here you will find historic validation that those government agencies tasked with protecting our health, safety and environment too often see their true role to be advancing the interests of the very corporations they are supposed to monitor and regulate. But this collection doesn’t just expose these truths; it also offers solutions to make our public institutions more “capture resistant,” to rebalance the relationship between the public and corporations, and hopefully, in so doing, to chart a path to democratic restoration.


Team Lead, Climate Emergency Unit, David Suzuki Institute, author, A Good War

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