Competition Compliance Programs

The Evolving Competition Law Landscape in Canada – Where Are We Now and What’s Next?

The final (and most significant) legislative bill in Canada’s current competition law reform process – Bill C-59 –  received royal assent on June 20, 2024. 

Recognizing the critical role of the Competition Act (the “Act”) in promoting dynamic and fair markets, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, announced on February 7, 2022 that he would carefully consider ways to modernize and improve its operation. Following this announcement, significant competition law reform has taken place in Canada, including the passage of the following three bills:Continue Reading BILL C-59 RECEIVES ROYAL ASSENT

The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming businesses around the world, offering unprecedented opportunities for innovation and economic prosperity. However, it also presents unique challenges for competition authorities tasked with ensuring fair and efficient markets. In response, the competition authorities such as the Canadian Competition Bureau, the UK Competition and Market Authority (CMA), the European Commission – DG Competition (EC) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been actively engaging in consultations and research to understand the implications of AI on competition policy. This blog highlights some of these agencies’ efforts to adapt competition policy to evolving digital markets as well as noting some of the key legal antitrust risks for business.Continue Reading Competition Authorities shining the light on AI

Competition Act Merger Notification Thresholds

The Canadian government has announced that the transaction-size threshold for pre-notification under the Competition Act will remain at C$93M for 2024. This is the third year that the transaction-size threshold has been fixed at this level, despite inflationary pressures throughout this period.

Mergers are subject to pre-closing notification in Canada if certain thresholds are met. These thresholds include a transaction-size threshold and a party-size threshold.Continue Reading Merger Transaction-Size Threshold Remains Frozen at C$93M; Investment Canada Act Review Thresholds Increased

Federal Government Releases Proposed Bill relating to Fall Economic Statement – including Significant Competition Act Amendments

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Revised text of Bill C-56 Released

On November 27, 2023, the Federal Government passed a Notice of Ways and Means Motion to introduce a bill entitled An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 21, 2023 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023, which was tabled on November 30, 2023 as Bill C-59 (the “Bill”). The Bill proposes amendments that implement some of the goals discussed in the 2023 Fall Economic Statement  to strengthen competition in Canada (as discussed in our previous blog post).Continue Reading Significant Competition Act Amendments on the Horizon

As of October 27, 2023, Quebec has eliminated its unique regulatory system which previous applied to publicity contests[1] which were offered in Quebec. In this regard, Bill 17: An Act to amend various provisions for the main purpose of reducing regulatory and administrative burden repealed the provisions of the Act respecting lotteries, publicity contests and amusement machines (the “Act”), and annulled the Rules respecting publicity contests (the “Rules”).Continue Reading Changes to Quebec Contest Rules

On November 21, 2023, the Federal Government released its 2023 Fall Economic Statement (the “Statement”). The Statement lays out the Federal Government’s multifaceted plan to improve housing in Canada, support the middle class, bolster the economy and create a stable financial sector. Additionally, the Statement outlines the Federal Government’s desire to strengthen competition in Canada through proposed amendments to the Competition Act (the “Act”). More specifically, the Statement discusses changes aimed at combatting alleged dominance abuses by large companies, modernizing merger reviews, protecting consumers from misleading claims and enabling private entities to engage in legal proceedings related to anti-competitive practices. These changes, according to the Statement, “will help bring Canada into alignment with international best practices to ensure that our marketplaces promote fairness, affordability, and innovation.”Continue Reading Federal Government Releases Fall Economic Statement – with New Competition Act Amendments Previewed

On June 23, 2022, Bill C-19, also known as the Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No.1 (the “BIA”), received royal assent. As discussed in our previous blog post, the BIA includes significant amendments to the Competition Act (the “Act”), including with respect to abuse of dominance, which came into force in June 2022. On October 25, 2023, the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) released a draft bulletin discussing its approach to the June 2022 abuse of dominance amendments (the “Draft Bulletin”). This blog post summarizes this new guidance.

By way of background, abuse of dominance under section 79 of the Act occurs when (i) a dominant firm or a dominant group of firms (ii) engages in a practice of anti-competitive acts, (iii) with the result that competition has been, is, or is likely to be prevented or lessened substantially in a market. Section 78 of the Act sets out a non-exhaustive list of examples of anti-competitive acts. Applications under the abuse of dominance provisions are heard only by the Competition Tribunal (the “Tribunal”). Where all three requirements of section 79 are met, the Tribunal may prohibit the anti-competitive conduct and may also direct the dominant firm to pay an administrative monetary penalty (“AMP”) or to take any action that is reasonable and necessary to overcome the anti-competitive effects of the conduct.Continue Reading Bureau Publishes New Abuse of Dominance Guidelines

The Dufresne Group (the “Group”), which operates Ashley Homestores and Dufresne Furniture and Appliances, must pay a substantial $3.25 million penalty, according to a statement from the Competition Bureau of Canada (the “Bureau”) released September 27, 2023. This settlement marks the resolution of concerns raised by the Bureau regarding the Group’s marketing practices.

The Bureau’s investigation into the Group’s marketing practices revealed a series of concerns related to the accuracy and honesty of their advertising claims. According to the Bureau, customers of Ashley Homestores were led to believe that they were benefiting from substantial discounts, based on assertions made through online platforms and various other advertising mediums within physical stores. Notably, the Bureau found that these apparent discounts were artificially exaggerated based on inflated regular prices, contrary to the ordinary price claims provisions of the Competition Act (the “Act”).Continue Reading The Dufresne Group Hit with $3.25 Million Penalty Amidst Competition Bureau’s Concerns Over Marketing Claims

On September 20, 2023, the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (“ISED”) released a report summarizing the submissions received from the public relating to the ongoing competition law amendment consultation process (the “Consultation Report”).

By way of background, as discussed in our previous blog post, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, launched the much anticipated public consultation for potential amendments to the Competition Act (the “Act”) on November 17, 2022. The call for public engagement highlighted that the review would focus on the role and functioning of the Act, the role and powers of the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”), the effectiveness of remedies and private redress mechanisms, addressing challenges of data and digital markets, and other pro-competitive policies.Continue Reading Public Consultation on Amendments to the Competition Act – Summary of Feedback

On September 18, 2023, Bill C-352, which was introduced by Jagmeet Singh (leader of the NDP), had its first reading in the House of Commons (the “Singh Bill”). On September 21, 2023, Bill C-56, which was introduced by Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance), also received its first reading in the House of Commons (the “Government Bill”). Each of these bills includes significant proposed amendments to the Competition Act in response to the ongoing public consultation and legislation review process regarding competition policy in Canada.

While each of the bills share some similarities (including, for example, the introduction of market study powers and removal of the efficiencies defence), the bills include a number of different proposals and the Singh Bill includes overall more substantive recommendations for amendments to Canada’s existing competition law regime.Continue Reading Proposed Amendments to the Competition Act receive first reading in House of Commons