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Ottawa Should Re-Invigorate Competition Enforcement in Canada

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November 8, 2018

The C.D. Howe Institute’s Competition Policy Council support measures to reinvigorate competition enforcement in Canada and safeguard the Commissioner of Competition’s ability to act as an effective advocate for competition.  This includes ensuring that the Competition Bureau is adequately resourced to do its job effectively.  At their most recent meeting, a majority of Council members also supported maintaining the Bureau as part of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), where the Bureau can help influence the direction of Canada’s industrial policy and encourage reliance on competitive market forces over direct economic regulation.

In a new communique titled: “Is Canada’s Competition Watchdog on a Leash?”  the Council notes that members considered whether the Competition Bureau should be restructured as an independent agency; however, the majority of the Council rejected this proposal. Instead, the Council made the following recommendations in support of effective competition enforcement:

  • In general, the federal government must make the rigorous enforcement and promotion of competition law a higher priority and allow the Competition Bureau to play a more prominent role in the government’s economic agenda.
  • The Bureau must receive adequate resources to fulfil its mandate. In particular, the Bureau should have a dedicated budget allocation in order to ensure it is not crowded out by ISED’s other priorities. This would ensure the Bureau has the resources it needs to properly investigate cartels, challenge anti-competitive conduct, efficiently review mergers, prevent deceptive marketing, and engage in competition advocacy.
  • Parliament could devote greater attention to scrutinizing the Bureau’s performance by requiring a parliamentary committee to review a detailed annual report by the Bureau.
  • The government should also consider creating an independent assessment body to periodically evaluate the Bureau’s performance.

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