Founded in 1976 by the CEOs of US-based Imperial Oil and Noranda, the Business Council on National Issues (BNCI) is Canada's version of the European and US business roundtables. Among its 30 members are the CEOs of several large banks and major Canadian and foreign companies including Air Canada, AT&T, Bechtel, Bombardier, Canadian Pacific, Cargill, Dupont, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Loram, MacMillan Bloedel, Mitsubishi, Monsanto, Nestlé, Northern Telecom, Petro Canada and Placer Dome.
Over the past two decades, the BCNI's relationship with successive Canadian governments has become increasingly intimate. The lobby group worked strenuously for the passage of the 1988 Canadian-US Free Trade Agreement,86 and organized a costly campaign to secure the election of the current neoliberal government. However, the BCNI's approach to the MAI has been less aggressive, perhaps due to the group's wish to sweeten its negative public image. In the November 1997 MAI hearings, the BCNI professed its strong support for the Paris negotiations, focusing on the people-pleasing job creation aspects that such a treaty would bring -- "recent studies have indicated that for each billion dollars invested over a five-year period in Canada, something in the order of 45,000 jobs are created."87
BCNI companies have also used other fora to fight for their favourite provisions in the MAI. Lobbying has been conducted through the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Council for International Business, and the BCNI is also a member of the OECD's official business advisory council, BIAC. In particular, the BCNI is strongly opposed to the EU's general exception for regional economic integration agreements (which would permit EU member states to discriminate against non-members), and, in solidarity with the USCIB, was quite disappointed at the recent rejection of "fast track" negotiating privileges for the president by the US Congress.88
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