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THE COMMISSIONER ADDS HIS WEIGHT TO THE DEBATE

The Commissioner of Competition, Matthew Boswell, expanded on this theme during his annual address to the CBA Competition Section’s fall conference in October 2021, supporting more wholesale reform in addition to the recriminalization of buy-side competitor agreements.

The Bureau would like to see the efficiencies defence fully repealed, or at least statutorily limited in some way.

This speech crystallized the Bureau’s position on a range of topics, and the Commissioner highlighted several areas where legislative reform may be warranted, questioning whether “the Bureau has the right tools under the Competition Act to take necessary and meaningful enforcement action.”

  • The Commissioner first raised the weak maximum available civil penalties and criminal fines under the existing regime (currently administrative monetary penalties of up to C$10 million for certain civil infringements, and criminal fines up to C$25 million for hard-core cartels) as well as the absence of private enforcement tools for certain infringements, such as abuse of dominance.
     
  • After the Bureau’s recent experience in seeking interim relief in the Secure/Tervita transaction, the Commissioner also highlighted the “overly strict and impractical legal tests” that are inhibiting the Bureau from preventing  consummation of anticompetitive mergers. Central to the Commissioner’s critique of Canada’s merger control laws is the efficiencies defence, the contours of which have been defined by case law over time, leading in the Commissioner’s view, to the creation of an (overly) “high bar” for the Bureau to challenge mergers successfully.  Without question, the Bureau would like to see the efficiencies defence fully repealed, or at least statutorily limited in some way.

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