Op-Eds

Canada’s competition laws do not need to be fundamentally rewritten for “big tech.” The best approach to ensuring Canadians benefit from digitization lies, not in devising new competition principles targeting a few large players, but in modernizing the application of principles we already have.

Data has always been at the heart of relations between businesses and their customers and suppliers. There has also always been a market for the attention of potential customers. What digital technologies have done is massively enhance our ability to collect and analyze this kind of data. Businesses can reach customers and suppliers on a previously unimagined scale, yet with pinpoint precision, an effect called “mass customization.” New…

The rocket-like rise of the tech titans has triggered a competition policy response from many of Canada’s largest trading partners, largely owing to populist angst over alleged market power and privacy concerns. In Europe and the United States, myriad proposals driven by a “big is bad” mantra seek new laws and regulations to tame the more successful digital platform companies. Traditional laissez-faire policies that have enabled unprecedented economic growth face the prospect of a deep chill should these proponents succeed in creating greater marketplace equality for businesses at the expense of consumer welfare. Competition rules that would punish successful enterprises to pursue nebulous notions of “fairness” put at risk incentives…

As the refreshed Trudeau minority government pushes forward with what we presume will be revised versions of Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s controversial bills C-10 and C-36, we suggest it pause, breathe and consider a more poised approach.

The problems with online harms legislation (C-36) are being revealed through the responses of numerous civil and human-rights organizations. The issues connected to C-10 are more firmly embedded within the public memory because of the controversy that ensued last spring when Mr. Guilbeault sought to grant the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) authority over the internet, including personal social-media posts. Its stated intent, while lacking in…

Big changes are afoot in the way patent drugs are priced in Canada. At present, Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), a federal agency, is responsible for setting maximum prices for patented drugs (i.e., pharmaceuticals, biologics and vaccines). The agency has been criticized for failing to rein in prices, which are higher than in some peer countries. This criticism is unfair: the tools the PMPRB was given to regulate drug prices when it was established in 1987 have become less effective over time.

To address this problem, the federal government has authorized the PMPRB to introduce new pricing regulations, now scheduled to come into force in January. We think this is the wrong strategy. Instead of relying on…

In a Post op-ed earlier this spring, “Why Canada’s toothless Competition Bureau can’t go after Big Tech,” Vass Bednar and Robin Shaban argued that Canada’s competition authorities are unable to “protect consumers from the dominance of Big Tech firms like Google and Facebook.” They advocated turning the Competition Bureau, a law enforcement agency, into an agency that investigates, and may even impose penalties or remedial action for conduct that has the potential to be anti-competitive. And they proposed giving the Bureau the power to seize data or compel production of business documentation for “market studies” from entities that are not even being formally investigated. As a 2017 report from the C.D. Howe Institute noted…