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ISSUE: Make Canada's Corporations Act Responsibly

Clean Up the System main page

  |  Background Information  |  The Opportunity for Change  |
The Message to Send to Politicians  |  Addresses for Politicians  |

All federal political parties have failed to ensure an effective corporate responsibility system

Corporate dishonesty, secrecy and irresponsibility abuses, kills and wastes people and the environment.

The head people at large corporations knew that tobacco, asbestos, food fats and additives, pesticides and pollution were harmful for years but kept it secret to make more money for themselves and their businesses.

Incredibly, the laws and enforcement of parking a car illegally are stronger than most corporate responsibility and bank accountability laws and enforcement systems in Canada, and in some cases the penalties for parking illegally are higher than for corporate executives who act dishonestly, unethically, secretively, irresponsibly or wastefully!

No federal political party has focused on strengthening Canada's corporate responsibility system in the past 140 years.  Most recently, the federal Liberals had majority power from November 1993 to June 2004, and then after the June 2004 election controlled a minority of seats in Parliament, and then the federal Conservatives have controlled a minority of seats in Parliament since the January 2006 election.

The federal Liberals did not do nearly enough between 1993 and 2004 to ensure that Canada's largest corporations are effectively required to act honestly, ethically, openly, representatively or to prevent waste, and the federal Conservatives have also not done enough since January 2006.

And while the federal New Democratic Party (NDP), the Bloc Québecois Party, and the Green Party have focused more than the Liberals and Conservatives on strengthening the federal corporate responsibility system, they have also not made these changes a top priority issue.

Over 155,000 of Canada's large corporations are set up under Canada's federal corporations law, the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA), including half of the largest 500 corporations in the country.

The CBCA sets out the basic rights and responsibilities for these corporations, and is essentially Canada's "corporate citizenship" law. The Corporate Responsibility Coalition is pushing for changes to the CBCA (set out below) to raise the standards of citizenship and responsibility for all these corporations.


There are many key corporate responsibility and bank accountability measures that are under ongoing review by the Canadian federal government.  No matter what issue or problem concerns you, strengthening the federal corporate responsibility systems will help you win the changes and solutions you are pushing for.

The federal Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) and other federal laws that relate to corporate responsibility are reviewed by the federal government on an ongoing basis.

For all of these reasons, now is a key time to send a strong message to the leaders of all the federal political parties that you are fed up with the dishonest, unethical, secretive, unrepresentative, and wasteful actions of corporate and bank executives and you want key changes to make everyone involved in Canada's large corporations and banks act honestly, ethically, openly, responsibly and to prevent waste.

On corporate and bank onesty, ethics, openness, responsibility and waste prevention reforms, the federal government has not heard from citizens or citizen groups enough to counter the power of corporate lobby groups.  It is important that you let the government know that you want significant corporate responsibility reforms.

Democracy Watch coordinates the Corporate Responsibility Coalition, made up of 31 groups from across Canada representing over 3.5 million Canadians, which pushes the federal government to strengthen corporate responsibility in Canada as part of Democracy Watch's Corporate Responsibility Campaign.

Democracy Watch also coordinates the Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition, made up of 100 groups from across Canada representing over 3.5 million Canadians, which pushes the federal government to strengthen bank accountability in Canada as part of Democracy Watch's Bank Accountability Campaign.

Democracy Watch also has a Citizen Association Campaign, which pushes federal and provincial governments to use an innovative method for creating broad-based, well-resourced, citizen-funded and citizen-run associations to act as watchdogs over many corporate sectors.  Both the Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition and the Corporate Responsibility Coalition propose that creating such watchdog groups is a key step to increasing bank accountability and corporate responsibility in Canada.

Sample Letter to the Key Politicians

PLEASE SEND A LETTER to all the federal political party leaders right now calling for key corporate responsibility and bank accountability changes.

The following SAMPLE LETTER provides a detailed list of changes -- all of which Democracy Watch and the 2 nation-wide coalitions Democracy Watch coordinates are pushing for to make Canada's largest corporations and banks responsible and accountable in key ways.  You can easily pick and choose from among the list of changes to highlight the ones you think are most important, or send a letter demanding that all of the changes be implemented by the federal political parties.

To be most effective, please use the SAMPLE LETTER only as a model for writing your own letter, and please note that sending a letter by mail or fax is much more effective than sending an email.

Dear Prime Minister / Industry Minister / Opposition Party Leader / Your MP:

Surveys show that a large majority of Canadians support strong measures to make corporations act responsibly, but the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) actually requires our largest corporations to pursue profits only and ignore the concerns of customers, communities, workers and the environment.

We need corporations that meet our needs and help build a better society for all. Your government can help ensure corporations pursue these goals by changing th CBCA and related laws to include the following measures:

  1. Require corporations to send a pamphlet to individual shareholders and customers inviting them to join watchdog groups for each corporate sector (some U.S. states have required utilities to do this -- See details on Democracy Watch's Citizen Association Campaign webpage);
  2. Require corporate directors to consider stakeholder interests (represented by workers, customers, communities, social justice and environmental groups) in making decisions, and to account publicly for the extent to which they do (including reducing waste to the best world standard, and paying all the costs of recycling and cleaning up any waste or pollution that results from what the corporation produces, all to the best world standards);
  3. Require corporations to disclose their records of compliance with environmental, criminal, competition, human rights, labour, health and safety laws, and set up an on-line, searchable database so that the public has easy access to the information;
  4. Establish an effective system (including a fully independent, fully empowered watchdog agency) to protect, from any form of retaliation, so-called "whistleblower" employees who disclose corporate wrongdoing to the public or to the government;
  5. Prohibit corporations that violate laws from receiving grants or contracts from any government for a specific period of time (e.g. 5-10 years), and;
  6. Allow stakeholders to apply for dissolution of a corporation that repeatedly violates laws.
Please write me back with the commitment that you will ensure the CBCA and related laws are changed to include these measures.

(put your name, postal address and email address (if you have one) here)


To support the Corporate Responsibility Coalition's campaign, please write to:
Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper, Interim Liberal Party Leader Bob Rae, the NDP, the Green Party, key MPs, and your own MP
all at the following address (NO POSTAGE NEEDED):

House of Commons
Ottawa, Canada
K1A 0A6
(To find your MP using your postal code, click here)

OR send your letter by email to all the federal party leaders at:
pm@pm.gc.ca, harper.s@parl.gc.ca, bob.rae@parl.gc.ca, rae.b0@parl.gc.ca, ndpadmin@fed.ndp.ca, may.e@parl.gc.ca, may.e0@parl.gc.ca, leader@greenparty.ca, dwatch@web.net, indu@parl.gc.ca, fina@parl.gc.ca, banking_banques@sen.parl.gc.ca, tran@parl.gc.ca

OR send your letter by fax or email individually to:
Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper
Fax: 613-941-6900
Email: <pm@pm.gc.ca>
Email: <harper.s@parl.gc.ca>

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae
Fax: 613-947-0310
Email: bob.rae@parl.gc.ca, rae.b0@parl.gc.ca

Fax: 613-230-9950
Email: <ndpadmin@fed.ndp.ca>

Bloc Québecois Leader Gilles Duceppe
Fax: 613-954-2121 or 514-522-9899
Email: <ducepg@parl.gc.ca>

and to:
The Industry Minister, the Industry Committee, and your MP. The address for all MPs and Ministers is House of Commons, Ottawa, K1A 0A6. No postage is necessary for letters sent to MPs and Ministers.

You can also fax your letter to The Minister of Industry, Fax: (613) 992-0302.

Senate Banking Committee - Ask that your letter be distributed to all Committee members, and send it to:
Clerk, Senate Committee on Banking Trade and Commerce,
Victoria Building, Room 710, 140 Wellington St., Ottawa, Ontario K1A OA4, Fax: (613) 990-6666

House of Commons Industry Committee - Ask that your letter be distributed to all the Committee members, and send it to:
Clerk, House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry,
Room 671, 180 Wellington St., Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6 Fax: (613) 943-0307

PLEASE ALSO SEND a copy of your letter by email to Democracy Watch at: <dwatch@web.net>

Thank you for participating in our DemocratizACTION Network

Democracy Watch's Corporate Responsibility Campaign

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Updated September 23, 2011

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