In this world view, the Canadian system of business regulation is ripe for the pruning of its lower branches, where the most liberal, socially, and environmentally-friendly legislation has been enacted that has cut into the bottom line of businesses nationwide (DuPlessis, Enman, Gunz, O'Byrne, 2011). Often, the conservative perspective would like to give personal legal rights to businesses with less consideration put upon the responsibilities that arise from such a legal status. This is to say that businesses, like people, should be afforded rights as well as responsibilities as the cost of the rights granted and enjoyed.
From the other side of the tracks, from a more liberal perspective, business ethics and regulations are different hands on the same body. This is to say that this group of people believes that the more businesses are regulated and ethically fixed; the better off an economy is (DuPlessis, Enman, Gunz, O'Byrne, 2011). This attitude also does not hold profits above any other human or environmental consideration. Certainly both this and the conservative attitudes' examples are stereotypical and must be taken with a grain of salt, but these two dueling perspectives, be they political, economic, or business-minded in nature, have always been at odds with one another in all economies and legal structures.
It is therefore necessary to look at the Canadian business structure and supporting legal system not from one or another perspective on either side, but from a sort of middle ground that allows for a balancing of the business and regulatory models. This balance should be struck with the idea in mind that profits are not always central to human interests, and that businesses are acting as business entities, not as persons with personal rights and responsibilities (Anderson, 2008). The Canadian model of business government is one that is relatively left-leaning as far as other nations are concerned. When compared to the U.S. system, the Canadian set of business laws and regulations is relatively hindering for many businesses. This comes in part from the higher taxes imposed by the Canadian government as a measure of a businesses' social and environmental considerations (DuPlessis, Enman, Gunz, O'Byrne, 2011). But these higher fiscal and social taxes have their benefits as well, as many Canadians can attest to.
Loosening the legal framework that Canadian businesses operate within could do much to help spur new growth in sectors that are already heavily regulated. But what cost are these regulations exacting on commerce? Do profits come before other human considerations like safety? This question is one that is often present in the decisions made by legislators as well as businesses themselves at certain defining moments of action (Husted, 2008). Loser regulations could also mean lower taxes, which could be argued, would also spur more employment growth since businesses would be making better profits and not have to worry so much about their regulatory fiscal responsibilities. However, if Friedman is to be taken seriously, and if businesses are concerned first and foremost with profits, then reducing taxes and fees on Canadian businesses would theoretically only act to embolden and fatten the bottom lines of the businesses involved. This means that they would simply absorb their lower costs as profit and move ahead, unaffected and unchanged as an entity concerned solely with money making.
A more measured, moderated approach could be taken, where regulations are loosened on businesses in ways that help to both free up more commerce as well as retain the ethical and human considerations that businesses face on a daily basis. In a global environment that has been very negatively affected by the global economic recession, the fact that Canadian businesses have enjoyed much shelter from this fiscal storm, being spared the much more severe fates that U.S. cohorts have had to endure, is testament to the fact that a greater amount of regulatory and legal apparatuses have actually helped to ease the economic blow of such a recession (DuPlessis, Enman, Gunz, O'Byrne, 2011). This means that because Canadian business law requires much more transparency in sectors like banking, finance, and investing, there has been far less fallout from the recession and from the lack of questionable ethical decisions and actions. This may be a product of such a heavily-regulated system where businesses have less incentive and ability to act in an unethical, illegal manner, or it may be a product of cultural differences (Anderson, 2008). Arguing for the former is quite clearly something that left-leaning politicians and businesspeople would find beneficial to their cause, but there is some merit to that argument in particular.
The connections between less regulation and higher profits and more regulation and the stymied profits of frustrated businesspeople is often made for political reasons, helping to justify tax hikes or reductions. But the evidence for these connections is self-evident, in the condition from which the Canadian business structure has emerged from the global economic recession and the robust nature of its banks and financial sector (DuPlessis, Enman, Gunz, O'Byrne, 2011).
The relationship between ethics and regulation will always be one where political and profit-taking considerations are carefully weighed and balanced against each other. However, the everyday considerations and decisions that businesses and governments have to make relative to these questions are often points of much contention. It is necessary to take a balanced, moderated approach to regulating business with the understanding that more regulation does not necessarily mean more transparency and social or ethical progress; just as less regulation and lower taxes are not always conducive to higher profits and more commercial activity. Teach economic and business sector is different, and therefore needs to be governed by a regulatory agency or group of people who understand the dynamics of the sector and who act and regulate accordingly. This balanced approach can be applied to the world of business ethics as well. Businesses exist because they make a profit, and social and environmental considerations are a nice secondary benefit to profit making. Yet these considerations often are made with less-than perfect ethical intent, that is to say businesses focus on their ethical considerations due to the fact that consumers find it easier to do business with a company or corporate structure that is perceived as more socially or ethically responsible. In other words, higher ethical standards, up to a certain point, equal higher profits, at least in the western cultural sense. This is an interesting paradox and one that will likely remain intact in the future.
Anderson, Bruce. (2008). "Business Ethics v Business Law: Rules, More Rules, and Deliberation." Legisprudence. Vol. 2, No. 3. Pp. 217-230.
Carasco, Emily F. And Singh, Jang B. (2008). "Human Rights in Global Business Ethics Codes." Business and Society review. Vol. 113, No. 3. Pp. 347-374.
DuPlessis, Dorothy; Enman, Steven; Gunz, Sally; and O'Byrne, Shannon. (2011). Canadian Business and the Law, 4th ed. Nelson Education: Scarborough, on.
Husted, Bryan W. (2008). "Toward a Model of Cross-Cultural Business Ethics: The Impact of Individualism and Collectivism on the Ethical Decision-Making Process." Journal of Business Ethics. Vol. 82, No. 2. Pp. 293-305.