Changing the Ideological Fabric? A Brief History of (Canadian) Neoliberalism

By Simon Enoch
October 16, 2007

In his A Brief History of Neoliberalism, David Harvey asks the question of how sufficient popular consent was generated to legitimate the neoliberal turn. Harvey states that the neoliberal revolution, usually attributed to Thatcher and Reagan after 1979, had to be accomplished by democratic means. For, “a shift of this magnitude to occur required the prior construction of political consent across a sufficiently large spectrum of the population to win elections.” [1] The following paper seeks to both confirm and challenge Harvey’s argument regarding the mobilization of consent for neoliberalism through the lens of the Canadian experience. In what follows, I will argue that the Canadian corporate community began a strategic communications campaign in the early 1970s designed to mobilize public and political support for neoliberal economic policies while simultaneously denigrating Keynesian-inspired state intervention and trade union power. In this regard, the Canadian experience closely corresponds with the actions of the American and British corporate sector as outlined by Harvey. [2] However, unlike Harvey, I do not believe this ideological assault on the Canadian populace has delivered the popular consent for neoliberal policies that Harvey describes as so deeply entrenched within the public as to constitute a Gramscian “common sense.” [3] Rather, I argue that while the corporate community has managed to capture the allegiance of political elites to the doctrines of neoliberalism, the Canadian public still remains predominantly Keynesian in its political and economic outlook, despite the best efforts of the corporate community to “change the ideological fabric” of the nation. [4] Therefore, we must look beyond ideology to other factors to account for the embrace of neoliberalism by successive Canadian governments in the face of discordant public attitudes.

In initiating this investigation, I will examine the particular political and economic climate of Canada during the 1970s that culminated in business fears that democratic encroachments were eroding their economic power. Attendant to these concerns was the appeal by the corporate sector to formulate a communications strategy designed to shape elite and popular opinion into directions more in line with corporate interests. Following this, I will examine the emergence and growth of business associations, corporate-funded think-tanks and corporate advocacy advertising as elements within this communication strategy to disseminate pro-free enterprise ideas and lay the foundations for the ascendance of neoliberalism within Canada into the 1980s and 90s. To conclude I will evaluate the effects and ultimate success of this massive corporate communications effort on public opinion and the exercise of democracy in Canada.

The 1970s represented a turning point in both political ideology and economic policy in most Western liberal democracies. The decade witnessed the incipient transition from the Keynesian Post-War Welfare state to the free-market rationale of neoliberalism. The decade was characterized by what certain elite opinion deemed a “crisis of democracy.” This “crisis” involved a supposed “excess” of democracy brought about by the entry into the political arena, during the 1960s and into the early 1970s, of previously passive or unorganized groups in the population asserting their rights and making demands upon the system. [5] Democracies had become “burdened with overactive minority group representation, too much emphasis on welfare provisions, too much protection of workers, a top-heavy public bureaucracy, and too many critics in academia and the media.” [6] The result was an “inability to govern,” as addressing the demands of the citizenry would require a radical redistribution of resources beyond the limits of what capital was prepared to concede. [7] To overcome this “crisis of democracy,” popular appetites would have to be curbed and governments would have to be rendered less susceptible to democratic inputs.

Certainly, Canada was not immune to these democratic pressures during this period. The 1970s would prove to be a turbulent decade for Canadian capital as public suspicion and distrust of corporate motives mounted. The 1972 federal election campaign witnessed the New Democratic Party, under the leadership of David Lewis, mobilize significant public support around a platform of ending “corporate welfare.” The subsequent election saw the Trudeau Liberals reduced to a minority with the Lewis New Democrats holding the balance of power. Thereafter, Tony Clarke notes, “public confidence in big business slipped even further.” [8] Further fueling the public’s distrust of Canada’s corporate community was the 1973 oil crisis. Public condemnation of giant oil corporations grew as Canadians were burdened with quadrupling oil prices and fuel shortages while oil companies tallied record profits. [9] Clarke argues that the anger generated by the actions of the oil companies not only eroded public confidence in big business, but began to cast serious doubts on “profit making and the free market system itself.” [10] With public confidence in the free market system waning, the Trudeau government intensified its intrusions into the Canadian economy. In 1975 Trudeau introduced wage and price controls to stabilize inflation. James Laxer suggests that Canadian capital feared not the mere reality of these controls, but “the threat that could become permanent.” [11] This fear was heightened when in an end of the year address on CTV, Trudeau declared that the controls “amounted to a massive intervention in the decision making power of economic groups, and it’s telling Canadians that we haven’t been able to make it work, the free market system.” [12] These statements were viewed by the corporate community as a threat by Trudeau to resort to even more government intervention in the future to correct the failings of the free market and the private sector. [13]

During this same period there prevailed a heightened union militancy resulting in a series of bitter and relatively successful strikes. As Donald Swartz notes, the late 1960s witnessed conditions of relative full employment. Buoyed by its heightened bargaining power under these conditions, organized labour made wide gains into the early 1970s. [14] For Canadian capital, the situation they faced was a period of stagnating markets and intense international competition. Swartz remarks that Canadian capital was caught between the “hammer of international competition and the anvil of working class resistance.” [15] Worker militancy was exacerbated, Canadian capital believed, by the provision of an expensive social safety net that reduced labor discipline. [16] Under these circumstances, capital could not pass on higher labor costs to the consumer without seriously undermining their competitiveness. This resulted in a decline in private profits, investment and job creation.

Under these conditions, Canadian capital felt that its ability to function in the pursuit of profit was being constrained by the power of the trade union movement and the social and economic policies of an interventionist government. The exercise of popular democracy was increasingly seen as an impediment to corporate economic freedom in that citizens using democratic institutions were able to “challenge the market distribution of power and income by insisting that a measure of equity be introduced, thereby subverting pure market outcomes.” [17] Under these circumstances, Canadian capital desperately needed to reverse the policy direction of the government and the opinion of the public in order to inaugurate a more conducive political and economic climate for corporate interests and thereby restore their class power.

The level of concern demonstrated by the Canadian corporate community over the “anti-business” climate of the period should not be underestimated. Many of Canada’s top business executives issued dire warnings of the consequences of failing to defend the free enterprise system. Jim Younger, vice-president of Steel Co. Canada warned:

What we are witnessing is the implementation of the socialist slogan, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” by the very means advocated by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto for bringing about socialism in advanced countries. [18]

James O’Grady, former president of the Consumer’s Association of Canada cautioned that:

Generalized lack of public trust in the motives and programs of our great industrial enterprises…may be laying the foundations for radical totalitarian political movements of the future, and make it relatively more difficult to create the climate for profitable and competitive enterprise. [19]

Similar alarm was voiced by Alfred Powis of Noranda Mines, who in an address to the Canadian Club in Toronto, declared that the private sector “is increasingly subject to uninformed, but strident and highly publicized attacks which seem to have a pervasive impact on government policies.” [20] The restraints put on capital in the form of increased taxation, regulation and consumer protection had left the private sector’s “vitality…steadily and insidiously sapped,” [21] Powis concluded. W.O. Twaits of Imperial Oil launched a similar tirade against the direction of the Canadian economy. Twaits called for a more business-friendly policy environment through an immediate freeze on social spending, reduced unemployment insurance, lower corporate taxes and removal of foreign investment restrictions to make the country more attractive to investment. [22]

However Canadian capital needed to do more than just preach the dangers of government intervention and public mistrust to the converted. Increasingly, calls came from business opinion leaders to formulate a communications strategy that would get out the free enterprise story to both the public and policy makers alike. Such a strategy was seen as paramount to ensuring the continued legitimacy of the free enterprise system in the face of democratically imposed constraints. As one business commentator pleaded, “unless the real emotional and material benefits of the system are communicated now, a restless public may deliberately or inadvertently undermine it.” [23] The Canadian Chamber of Commerce urged its members to “improve the public’s understanding of our true objectives…that the public interest is the foundation of commercial interest.” [24] The Canadian Manufacturers Association also exhorted its membership to:

Get across to the public what the free enterprise system is all about. We must break down the misconceptions about profits which have been built up in the minds of many employees and their families, teachers, educators, students, and consumer groups. [25]

One of the more vociferous advocates of a corporate communications strategy was Alan Yeates, president of Baker Lovick Ltd. Yeates called for the skills of advertising to be harnessed “in a massive defence of the economic system.” [26] Yeates argued that in order to reverse the current anti-business climate, a massive amount of organization, planning and fund raising was necessary to fulfill the public relations needs of the free enterprise system. A failure to act, warned Yeates, was to invite disaster for the capitalist economy. “What is at risk now,” Yeates cautioned, “is a significantly larger issue, the continuing existence of the business system.” [27]

The result of this call to arms in defence of the free enterprise system would be a two-pronged ideological assault on the psyche of the nation. Corporate sponsored communications praising free enterprise would be directed at policy makers and opinion leaders through the creation of corporate lobbies and corporate-funded think-tanks, while the general public would be inundated with pro-market messages through corporate public relations and advocacy advertising. The result would be the creation of a vast system of pro-free enterprise communications designed to fundamentally transform the attitudes and values of Canadians to correspond with the objectives and interests of the corporate sector.

Perhaps the most powerful and effective organ of the free enterprise message to emerge at this time was the Business Council on National Issues (BCNI). The BCNI was established in 1976 with an original compliment of 93 of the most powerful corporations in the country. Co-chairman W.O. Twaits stated that the group was formed to create a greater voice for business, a voice that had become “increasingly fractured and had declined in credibility.” [28] David Langille argues that the formation of the BCNI represented a corporate leadership that could no longer afford to make the “concessions or compromises entailed in a democratic pluralist system.” The Council was formed as a reaction to a political party system that was deemed “too responsive to democratic appetites and too willing to sacrifice capitalist priorities in the face of democratic pressures.” [29] The focus of the Council was almost entirely geared to the dissemination of pro-free enterprise ideas within government and the policy community at large. [30] The BCNI, since its inception, has increasingly set the boundaries for public policy. The power of the group has allowed it to access the upper echelons of power, to “propagate their message even further around the corridors of power, and to package it in credible research and legitimate it as the national interest.” [31]

The influence of the BCNI on public policy since its inception has been dramatic. As Langille argues, the BCNI has been “instrumental in shaping Canada’s macro-economic policy over the last several years.” [32] Since its creation, the Council has dictated Canada’s competition policy, orchestrated a new energy accord, aborted a national industrial strategy, led the change to overhaul Canada’s Health and Social Transfer (CHST) and steered the country towards the acceptance of comprehensive free trade deals with the United States. Former BCNI director Thomas D’Aquino sums up the Council’s efforts as thus:

Change is now broadly accepted by Canadians as necessary and I am pleased to say that business leaders are leading the charge. Even more significantly, Canada’s political class has experienced a collective conversion. The need for personal, corporate and capital gains tax relief is now firmly entrenched in the dogma of the mainline parties. Debt reduction has become the sensible thing to do. New economy principles are now the rage. Free trade commands widespread support. [33]

While D’Aquino’s argument may not be as generally accepted as he may believe (a point I will discuss later), his emphasis on the degree to which Canada’s political class has adopted the neoliberal principles of the BCNI is difficult to refute. Given the power and influence the BCNI has exerted to frame policy debate, it can be considered the foremost purveyor of corporate sponsored communications directed at Canadian political elite opinion to emerge in the 1970s.

While the BCNI may be the most successful of the institutions to emerge during this period, they were certainly not the sole purveyors of the free enterprise message targeting Canada’s elite opinion makers. Corporate funded “think-tanks” or policy institutes also assumed the role of reversing “anti-business” opinion within government, the media, and in academia. Canada witnessed the emergence of several corporate funded think-tanks in the 1970s. Some, such as the Fraser Institute, were brand new to the existing policy research environment. Others, such as the C.D. Howe Institute, were fundamentally transformed during this period to project an ideological perspective more in keeping with the interests of the corporate sector. I turn to the C.D. Howe Institute (CDHI) first.

The CDHI had existed in various incarnations since 1958. Until the 1970s, the CDHI espoused a mixed bag of economic policies, leaning towards liberal continentalism yet still advocating limited forms of state intervention. A noticeable shift in perspective occurred during the 1970s. Alan Ernst argues that, “one can trace a growing tendency towards neo-conservatism through to the late 1970s in CDHI policy discourse. [34] This shift coincided with the CDHI’s growing reliance on private corporate dollars to ensure stable funding of the Institute.” [35] With this infusion of corporate money, the CDHI became a more active and media conscious policy advocate, prosteltyzing beyond the halls of parliament and expanding its output of publications, conferences and seminar appearances. As CDHI operations grew, so did its transformation into an advocate for the corporate sector. In 1976, CDHI economist Judith Maxwell argued that democratic appetites were partly behind the deteriorating performance of the economy:

The rise in personal expectations has escalated to a point where many Canadians believe their particular claim against society is not merely a claim but a moral imperative…The result is that the standards for reasonable wage and price decisions have been abandoned. [36]

While the CDHI argued that greater market discipline should be introduced to curb the democratic aspirations of the public, its full transformation into a free market advocate was not realized until the early 1980s. By 1981, the CDHI had shifted its policy direction significantly enough that it became “predictably orientated to Canada’s business elite.” [37] Indeed by the mid 1980s the CDHI had become one of the staunchest advocates for bilateral free trade with the United States, trumpeting its successful conversion of senior federal ministers and bureaucrats to support the FTA. [38] Despite these victories, the CDHI nevertheless remains suspicious of the popular exercise of democracy. The CDHI admits that the most important challenge to capital in the years ahead is the “danger that public opinion may be organized around the need to reverse previous policy directions, regardless of their rationale.” [39] It is quite revealing that the CDHI identifies the public as the most significant threat to corporate power.

With over 280 individual and corporate members, the CDHI is one of Canada’s most influential policy institutes. However it is not the most vociferous advocate of free enterprise to emerge out of the 1970s. That distinction goes to the British Columbia-based Fraser Institute. The Fraser was founded in 1974 as a response to the social democratic policies of the NDP government under Dave Barrett. The Institute was backed by a small group of powerful B.C. corporate executives led by Pat Doyle of MacMillan Bloedel. Doyle envisioned the Institute as a “propaganda think-tank to combat the [B.C.] socialists.” [40] The purpose of the Institute was plainly revealed by Michael Walker, the original director of the Institute, who opined, “If you really want to change the world, you have to change the ideological fabric of the world.” [41] The Fraser set out on a multi-faceted program focused on the promotion of free market values and cultural change, including “writing anti-government and free market articles for daily newspapers, engaging university students in discussions about free market philosophy and distributing free market studies to legislators across the country.” [42] The Fraser’s goal to redefine the attitudes of Canadians has become more ambitious since its inception. In a 1997 leaked document, the Fraser outlined its five-year $2.7 million plan to redefine the concept of freedom within the minds of Canadians to coincide with the values of free enterprise. [43] Enlisting the help of twenty-five multinational corporations, the Fraser planned the creation of “the freedom index,” which rates governments in regards to how much they promote or hinder the Fraser’s conception of “economic freedom.” The Fraser’s definition of economic freedom is heavily slanted towards the interests of Canadian corporations. CAW economist Jim Stanford notes:

The ideological bias of the Fraser Institute’s approach to economic freedom is clear from the choice of variables considered by their index. An economy is free if the operations of private businesses and investors are relatively unfettered by government policies, rules, or practices which undermine the flexibility, profitability, or sustainability of those operations… [with the conception of economic freedom so narrow] it is not surprising that their index sheds relatively little light on the actual economic conditions experienced by the majority of humanity. [44]

This conversion of Canadian’s attitudes towards economic freedom is just one aspect of the Fraser’s five-year plan. The Fraser also hopes to redefine Canadian attitudes in numerous areas of public policy. It includes the promotion of privatized Medicare and education; a “law and markets” project designed to ensure that democratic legislation will not inhibit economic freedom, the promotion of “environmental economics,” to demonstrate market based solutions to environmental problems, a “cost of regulation” index to measure the costs of government regulation on the private sector, and the promotion and implementation of “right to work” laws to undermine union organizing and closed shops. [45]

The five-year plan also outlines the Fraser’s strategy to expand its penetration of the mainstream news media. The Institute boasts an output of 250 books, thousands of articles, a weekly newsletter, The “Fraser Forum,” received by over 300 radio stations across the country, and weekly opinion pieces sent out to over 70 media outlets across Canada. [46] The Institute claims it has “outpaced not only each and every one of our competitors but the sum total of their efforts in [media presence].” [47] Indeed the degree to which the Fraser Institute and other corporate funded think-tanks have succeeded in monopolizing media coverage is starkly demonstrated by Newswatch Canada’s study on the influence of think-tanks in the media. Newswatch compiled references to think-tanks in fourteen major daily newspapers and CBC and CTV newscasts over a six-month period. Newswatch concluded that corporate sponsored think-tanks dominated with 68% of all media references. The Fraser received 312 references, while the C.D. Howe received 270. The most prolific of the left wing think-tanks, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) managed only 64 citations. [48] Indeed the pervasiveness of the Institute in Canada’s mainstream media has led the Ottawa Citizen to deem it “Canada’s most powerful think-tank,” while the Fraser boasts that the current public policy agenda in Canada “reads like an index of past Institute publications. Many of the Institute’s ideas have become the consensus view on topics that are crucial for the economic well-being of Canadians.” [49]

It is important to emphasize the role of Canadian economic elites in both the creation and fostering of the above institutions as part of a broader scheme of business activism. As William Carroll and Murray Shaw illustrate, Canadian corporations have been intimately interlocked with these organizations since their inception. [50] Indeed the level of integration between Canada’s corporate sector and these policy networks should bolster the argument that the communications strategy developed in the 1970s was a concerted effort on behalf of the Canadian corporate community to undermine the ideological support for the Keynesian Post-war consensus that continues to this day. [51]

The second component of the corporate communications strategy begun in the 1970s would be the dissemination of pro-free enterprise messages aimed directly at the public in the hopes of affecting a mass conversion in public attitudes in line with the interests of the corporate sector. As has been previously shown, there existed an enormous legitimacy gap during the 1970s between the public and Canadian capital on the role of the corporation in Canadian society and the free enterprise system itself. Numerous corporations sought to reverse public opinion through the use of “abstract long term” advocacy campaigns designed to influence public attitudes on abstract principles such as the degree of government involvement desired in the economy or the role of profits in a free enterprise system of commerce. [52] While corporations such as Canadian Pacific, Noranda Mines, and Lafarge Cement undertook such advocacy campaigns, the two most extensive corporate public relations campaigns to emerge at this time appear to be the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) “Let’s Free Enterprise” campaign and the petroleum industry’s campaign to educate the public on the role of profits.

The IBC, representing 90% of Canadian property and casualty insurance companies launched its “Lets Free Enterprise” campaign in September of 1976. This multimedia campaign involved advertising in national daily newspapers, public speaking engagements, and twelve weeks of nationally broadcast television and radio commercial spots. The campaign was designed to reverse public attitudes towards interventionist governments and the welfare state. IBC president Daniel Damos commented that the campaign was launched for:

…very obvious reasons of self interest. We want to stress the benefits and advantages of competitive enterprise. [The campaign] is about a need for a return to a sense of initiative and self reliance…individuals through ingenuity and enterprise can solve their own problems rather than simply run to government. [53]

The Canadian oil industry mounted a similar campaign to reverse the hostile public perception of the industry and to educate the public on the role of profits. Bypassing the news media, the oil giants poured millions during the 70s and early 80s into a massive advertising blitz to promote the petroleum industry and “safeguard the free market system.” [54] The campaign sought to educate the public on the actual costs incurred by the industry through capital development and government taxation. Essentially, the campaign was to justify the industry’s record profits by focusing on the benefits these profits bring to Canada in the form of investment and government revenue. While these advertisements were sometimes wholly lacking in accuracy, they nevertheless managed to achieve a measure of success. [55] By employing Decima Research to conduct psychographic research and attitudinal survey methods, the industry was able to track the affects of the PR campaign on public opinion and make adjustments accordingly. The result of this lengthy campaign was an increase in the industry’s “honesty” rating by twenty percent in just three years. [56]

From the above evidence, I believe it is fair to conclude that Canada’s corporate sector, fearful of democratic constraints on their power, consciously mobilized a vast system of corporate communications, aimed at both the elite and the general population, to shape attitudes to more closely correspond with neoliberal policy prescriptions. However, how successful has this continuing campaign been in accomplishing this goal? David Harvey seems to view the current neoliberal policy environment as evidence that the public have been won over by the doctrines of the corporate sector. However, we must be careful not to conflate the current policy environment with popular consensus, as if the existence of one necessitates the other, naïve pluralism aside. While the existence of this corporate sponsored “information infrastructure” most certainly frustrates and problematizes the ability of the citizenry to make informed decisions, it has not completely emptied the public of critical thought. An extensive survey of Canadian attitudes and values conducted by Ekos Research in 1994 and 1995 concluded that there was a “fundamental difference between the perspective of the economic and political elites, on the one hand, and the general public on the other.” [57] Canada’s elite community showed a “remarkable internal consistency” in favour of neoliberal economic and social prescriptions such as minimizing the role of government and expanding market competition. [58] However the attitudes of the general public reflected a growing dissensus with elite opinion, listing strong support for interventionist government in economic and social policy, and an insistence on a greater public voice in government affairs. [59] Similarly, more recent opinion surveys, though more ambiguous, continue to measure substantial public support for increased activist government and investment in social programs, although support for trade liberalization has increased. [60] While the pro-free enterprise agenda seems to have indelibly marked elite opinion, it has not had an equal impact on the public. [61]

If public opinion is relatively antagonistic to neoliberal practices, how then have Canadians been saddled with successive governments bent on implementing a neoliberal agenda? Harvey partially answers this question in his discussion of neoliberal theory and its fundamental aversion to democracy. As Harvey states, “neoliberals have to put strong limits on democratic governance, relying instead upon undemocratic and unaccountable institutions (such as the Federal Reserve or the IMF) to make key decisions.” [62] Indeed election and political rhetoric notwithstanding, reliance on unrepresentative institutions to entrench neoliberal policies and prevent their reversal through democratic channels has been emblematic of the Canadian experience with neoliberalism. The Canadian government’s willing complicity to surrender their autonomy to undemocratic and unaccountable multi-lateral institutions such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the ill-fated Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) are examples of this. [63] Moreover, neoliberal restructuring of the state has further shielded domestic policy from democratic contestation. Greg Albo observes:

A host of state functions concerned with economic matters, such as central banks, regulatory agencies, and special development projects, have been insulated from democratic structures by increasing their operational autonomy. This bureaucratic insulation occurs under the neoliberal guise of protecting the market from political interference, when in fact the political role of the market is being strengthened to offset any democratic initiatives being fought through the state. [64]

Indeed, we can witness examples of this through efforts such as legislated balanced budgets, tax expenditure limits (TELs), the delivery of the Bank of Canada and its fiscal policies from any political control, and the withdrawal of the Federal government from cost-sharing programs with the provinces. These decisions, whether intentional or not, have the very real consequence of impeding the ability of governments to respond to its citizens’ demands. [65] It is this entrenchment that has guaranteed neoliberalism’s privileged status in Canadian public policy rather than the manufacture of mass consent. Indeed, as David Miller cautions, we should not privilege ideology to the detriment of the structural realities of class power that often occur behind our backs. [66] One can not fault a democratic polity for somehow “consenting” to policies that have ostensibly been taken out of the public sphere, no longer subject to democratic input or contestation.

Thus the problem of neoliberalism as the dominant policy discourse in Canada has less to do with mass persuasion and more to do with the erosion of democratic avenues for popular participation. That the efforts of corporations outlined here have failed to produce the mass consent for neoliberal policies that they so desire proves that the Canadian public is most certainly not completely lost to the doctrines of neoliberalism; which leaves open the potential to reclaim the democratic project from the grasp of corporate power.


1. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 39.

2. Harvey, A Brief History, 42-63.

3. Harvey, A Brief History, 39.

4. Tony Clarke, Silent Coup: Confronting the Big Business Takeover of Canada (Ottawa: CCPA, 1997), 15.

5. Noam Chomsky, Radical Priorities (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1981), 162.

6. M. Patricia Marchak, The Integrated Circus: The New Right and the Global Restructuring of Markets (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1991), 106.

7. Chomsky, Radical Priorities, 161.

8. Clarke, Silent Coup, 10.

9. Clarke, Silent Coup, 10.

10. Clarke, Silent Coup, 10.

11. James Laxer, Canada’s Economic Strategy (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1981), 42.

12. Clarke, Silent Coup, 11.

13. Clarke, Silent Coup, 11.

14. Donald Swartz, ‘New Forms of Worker Participation: A Critique of Quality of Working Life’, Studies in Political Economy No. 5, Spring, 1981, 60-61.

15. Swartz, ‘New Forms’, 62.

16. David Langille, ‘The Business Council on National Issues and the Canadian State’, Studies in Political Economy No.24, Autumn, 1987, 46.

17. John Shields & Stephen McBride, Dismantling a Nation: The Transition to Corporate Rule in Canada (Halifax: Fernwood, 1997), 49.

18. Jim Younger, ‘Implementing Socialism’, The Financial Post, May 31, 1975.

19. James O’Grady, ‘Creating the Climate for Profitable and Competitive Enterprise: What the Public Expects’, Cost and Management, March/April, 1976, 21.

20. Laxer, Canada’s Economic Strategy, 41.

21. Laxer, Canada’s Economic Strategy, 41.

22. Clarke, Silent Coup, 12.

23. Robin Hall, ‘A Million Dollar Statement’, Executive, October, 1974, 18.

24. ‘Business Should Say its Piece’, Canadian Business, November 1973, 52.

25. Amy Booth, ‘CMA Must Show Why Profits Really Matter’, The Financial Post, June 8, 1974.

26. Alan Yeates, ‘Fighting for Capitalism’, The Financial Post, May 31, 1975.

27. Yeates, ‘Defend the System’, Marketing, May 12, 1975.

28. ‘Business Fights Back’, Marketing, April 18, 1977, 1.

29. Langille, ‘The Business Council’, 46.

30. Langille, ‘The Business Council’, 44-45; The BCNI did make more direct appeals to the public during the1988 Free Trade debate, however under an umbrella group named The Canadian Alliance for Trade and Job Opportunities. See Joyce Nelson, Sultans of Sleaze: Public Relations and the Media (Toronto: Between the Lines, 1989), 91.

31. Langille, ‘The Business Council’, 54.

32. Langille, ‘The Business Council’, 72; Murray Dobbin notes that most of the Mulroney Conservatives’ legislation in regards to trade, taxation, defence, and monetary policy was virtually identical to position papers produced by the BCNI. See Murray Dobbin, ‘The New Right and How Things got this Bad’, AGM Discussion Paper, The Council of Canadians, October 1, 1995, 3.

33. Thomas D’Aquino, ‘Marching Towards Prosperity: The National and Global Challenge’, BCNI Autumn General Meeting, Toronto, November 1, 2000.

34. Note that the distinction between “neoliberalism” and “neoconservatism” was far from settled at this time. Alan Ernst, ‘From Liberal Continentalism to Neoconservatism: North American Free Trade and the Politics of the C.D. Howe Institute’, Studies in Political Economy No. 39, Autumn, 1992, 122.

35. Ernst, ‘From Liberal Continentalism’, 121.

36. Judith Maxwell, ‘Challenges to Complacency’, Policy Review and Outlook, 1976, Montreal: CDHI, 1976, 70.

37. Ernst, ‘From Liberal Continentalism’, 127.

38. Ernst, ‘From Liberal Continentalism’, 132.

39. Ernst, ‘From Liberal Continentalism’, 135.

40. Clarke, Silent Coup, 15.

41. Dobbin, ‘The New Right’, 1.

42. Clarke, Silent Coup, 15.

43. James Winter, ‘Fraser Institute to Redouble Media Penetration Efforts’, Flipside: An Alternative Daily, August 25, 2000.

44. Jim Stanford, Economic Freedom (for the rest of us) (Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 1999), 2-3.

45. Erika Shaker, ‘Freedom for Corporations, Serfdom for People’, The CCPA Monitor Vol. 4 No. 5, October 1997, 6.

46. ‘About the Fraser Institute’.

47. Winter, ‘Fraser Institute’.

48. Robert Hackett and Richard Gruneau, The Missing News: Filters and Blind Spots in Canada’s Press (Aurora: Garamond Press, 2000), 204.


50. William K. Carroll & Murray Shaw, ‘Consolidating a Neoliberal Policy Bloc’, Canadian Public Policy Vol. 27 No. 2, 2001, 203-211.

51. See Jamie Brownlee’s Ruling Canada: Corporate Cohesion and Democracy (Halifax: Fernwood, 2005), for a detailed examination of Canada’s corporate elite unity.

52. Duncan McDowall, Advocacy Advertising: Propaganda or Democratic Right? (Ottawa: The Conference Board of Canada, 1982), 48.

53. ‘National Blitz Supports IBC Call for Free Enterprise’, Marketing, September 6, 1976, 3.

54. Nelson, Sultans of Sleaze, 70.

55. Linda McQuaig notes that in the case of Shell Canada’s PR message, the corporation failed to mention its tax deferments and write-offs that resulted in Shell receiving a $47 million tax credit for the year in question. See Nelson, Sultans of Sleaze, 70-71.

56. Nelson, Sultans of Sleaze, 70.

57. Clarke, Silent Coup, 130-131.

58. John W. Warnock, ‘The Growing Rift in Canada’, Briarpatch Vol. 24 No. 7, September, 1995, 14; The Ekos study surveyed 2,400 Canadians in February 1994, with a follow-up survey of 1600 in November. A separate survey was taken of 1,000 elected politicians, high-level bureaucrats and corporate leaders.

59. Warnock, ‘The Growing Rift’, 14.

60. For instance see Dobbin, The Myth of the Good Corporate Citizen: Democracy under the Rule of Big Business (Toronto: Stoddard, 1998); Matthew Mendelsohn, ‘Canada’s Social Contract: Evidence from Public Opinion’, Canadian Policy Research Networks Discussion Paper, November 2002.

61. Similar Keynesian sentiments can be found in a majority of the American public as well. For instance see Justin Lewis, Constructing Public Opinion: How Political Elites Do What they Like, and Why We Seem to Go Along With It (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).

62. Harvey, A Brief History, 69.

63. For instance, Michael Walker of the Fraser Institute notes that the FTA “limits the extent to which the U.S. or other signatory governments may respond to pressure from their citizens.” In Shields & McBride, Dismantling a Nation, 185n.

64. Gregory Albo, ‘Neoliberalism, the State, and the Left: A Canadian Perspective’, Monthly Review, May, 2002.

65. For a more detailed discussion see John Shields & B. Mitchell Evans, Shrinking the State: Globalization and Public Administration Reform (Halifax: Fernwood, 1998).

66. David Miller, ‘Media Power and Class Power: Overplaying Ideology’, In Panitch & Leys, eds., Socialist Register 2002: A World of Contradictions (London: Merlin Press, 2001).

Simon Enoch, Communication and Culture, Ryerson University, Toronto.