Is cooperation the answer? Canadian environmental enforcement in comparative context

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Abstract

In recent years, a number of authors have been critical of the adversarial U.S. “regulatory style,” and have expressed interest in more cooperative regulatory approaches common in Western Europe. They have argued that the inflexible, deterrence-based approach that has characterized enforcement of U.S. health, safety, and environmental laws is not only inefficient in treating minor and significant violations equally, but counterproductive in fostering antagonistic relationships between regulators and the regulated. This article examines the effectiveness of the cooperative Canadian approach to enforcement of environmental regulations, using the pulp and paper industry as a case study. The resulting levels of compliance are compared with rates of compliance in the United States for the same industry. Significantly lower rates of compliance in Canada cast doubt on the growing consensus in favor of cooperative regulatory approaches.

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