Private Gain or Public Interest?

Reforming Canada's Oil and Gas Industry
December 4, 2009
2.74 MB36 pages

Canada’s oil and gas industry creates significant environmental, social, and political problems for Canadians. This is partly due to the nature of the for-profit, private-interest business corporation, which dominates that industry. The business corporation has a mandate to maximize share value and profits, and this translates into boosting consumption and externalizing costs.

Some of the problems can be resolved by purchasing the industry and converting it to an industry aimed at serving a broader public-interest mandate. Legally and financially, the transformation would be relatively straight-forward, and there are precedents. An interesting set of design questions warrants further discussion: the type of ownership (whether public or private, or a mix), rent entitlements and federalism, stakeholder involvement, specific mandate elements, and preparations for the transformation.