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ISSUE: Competition Law Reforms

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Several proposed mergers and takeovers of large corporations over the past few such as the bank mergers, the airline mergers, and newspaper mergers have revealed significant problems with Canada's Competition Bureau and its enforcement of competition laws.

With bank mergers and other mergers in the financial services industry, there is no formal process for reviewing proposed mergers to determine if they are in the public interest.

With the airline mergers, the federal government suspended competition laws in August 1999, creating a situation that allowed companies to make illegal proposals to take over of Air Canada, but prohibited the Competition Bureau from reviewing the proposed takeover.

The Commissioner of Competition has stated several times that he does not have enough staff or resources to enforce competition laws effectively, but the federal government has refused to date to increase funding for competition law enforcement.

In addition, the government has, in several cases, appointed corporate lawyers to represent the Commissioner of Competition in competition law cases, instead of using government lawyers. When they finish representing the Commissioner, these same corporate lawyers then represent large corporations in cases decided by the Commissioner. The government has continued using outside lawyers despite conflict of interest rules that should prevent corporate lawyers from revolving in and out of government.


On competition law reforms, the federal government has not heard from citizens or citizen groups enough to counter the lobbying of the large corporations. It is important that you let the government know that Canadians need strong enforcement of effective competition laws to ensure that large corporations can't abuse or gouge their customers.

The House of Commons Industry Committee held hearings between mid-April and mid-May 2000 on the operations of the Competition Bureau, and issued a report in mid-June that called for more resources and powers for the Competition Bureau.

The Competition Bureau held consultations on the operation of the Bureau from May to August 2000.

Industry Minister Allan Rock has an ongoing review of the Competition Act.


Write your MP, the Justice Minister and the Industry Minister (who are responsible for strengthening the enforcement of competition laws in Canada - See addresses below). Please send a copy of your letter and any response to Democracy Watch. In your letter urge the government:

To ensure that corporate lawyers do not have undue influence over the enforcement of competition laws by:

  1. maintaining a staff of government lawyers large enough to handle competition cases;
  2. strengthening conflict of interest rules for litigation in competition cases;
  3. only using outside lawyers in special circumstances;
  4. ensuring that even the appearance of a conflict of interest or bias does not occur when outside lawyers are used.
For more information about the four proposed competition law reforms set out above, please order a copy of our report,
Revolving Doors: The Undue Influence of Corporate Lawyers on the Competition Bureau

To ensure that corporations can be held accountable for abusive and anti-competitive actions by changing the Competition Act as follows:

  1. any injured party should have the right to apply to the Competition Tribunal for an order to stop any criminal and reviewable action by any corporation, and an order that the corporation pay for any damages caused by the corporation;
  2. any order to pay damages should include punitive damages;
  3. price fixing and market division agreements should be clearly illegal;
  4. the minimum threshholds for notification of mergers and takeovers should be significantly lowered both in terms of companies involved and the type of merger/takeover involved;
  5. the Competition Bureau should be required to consult the public in a meaningful and in-depth way concerning the impacts of corporate mergers and takeovers, to ensure that no merger or takeover is allowed if it is not in the public interest.
For more information about the proposed competition law reforms set out above, please contact Democracy Watch


SEND YOUR LETTER BY MAIL calling for key federal government accountability changes to:
Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper, Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff, NDP Leader Jack Layton, and Bloc Québecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, and your own MP
all at the following address (NO POSTAGE NEEDED):

House of Commons
Ottawa, Canada
K1A 0A6
(To find your MP using your postal code, click here)

OR send your letter by email to all the federal party leaders at:
pm@pm.gc.ca, harper.s@parl.gc.ca, Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca, jack@fed.ndp.ca, ducepg@parl.gc.ca, leader@greenparty.ca

AND fax your letter to:

The Minister of Justice, Fax: (613) 990-7255
The Minister of Industry, Fax: (613) 992-0302

AND to the House of Commons Industry Committee - Ask that your letter be distributed to all the Committee members, and send it to:
Clerk, House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry
Room 671, 180 Wellington St.
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6 
Fax: (613) 943-0307

OR send your letter by fax or email individually to:
Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper
Fax: 613-941-6900
Email: <pm@pm.gc.ca>
Email: <harper.s@parl.gc.ca>

Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff
Fax: 613-947-0310
Email: <Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca>

NDP Leader Jack Layton
Fax: 613-230-9950
Email: <jack@fed.ndp.ca>

Bloc Québecois Leader Gilles Duceppe
Fax: 613-954-2121 or 514-522-9899
Email: <ducepg@parl.gc.ca>

AND, finally, please send a copy of your letter by email to Democracy Watch at: <dwatch@web.net>

Thank you for participating in our DemocratizACTION Network

Updated December 16, 2008