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Bill 17: An Act to amend various provisions for the main purpose of reducing regulatory and administrative burden repealed the provisions of the Act respecting lotteries, publicity contests and amusement machines (the “Act”), and annulled the Rules respecting publicity contests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

On October 5, 2023, the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) hosted a summit (the “Summit”) on competition law and policy in Canada. Among other things, the Summit included discussions focusing on Canada’s current economic landscape; the main barriers to competition in Canada; Canadians’ diverse perspectives on competition issues in Canada; and building a whole-of-government competition agenda.

This blog posts discusses a number of key themes and takeaways that emerged from the Summit, and which may inform the government’s approach  in the ongoing competition law reform process. Among other things, these themes included: (i) the need to implement an all of government approach regarding competition policy in Canada, (ii) lack of competitive intensity in Canada driven, in part, by regulatory barriers and burdens, and (iii) the need to modernize Canada’s competition laws.

Continue Reading Takeaways from the Competition Bureau’s Competition Law Summit and Report on Competition

On September 28, 2023, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology (“INDU”) – the committee tasked with studying the legislation and activities of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada – concluded its study of Bill C-34: An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act and reported its proposed amendments to the House of Commons.

Continue Reading Update on proposed amendments to the Investment Canada Act

On September 28th, 2023, the Director of Investments to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (the “Minister”) published the Annual Report on the administration of the Investment Canada Act (the Act) for the 2022/23 fiscal year.

During the fiscal year 2022-2023, the Investment Review Division reviewed 1,010 applications for review and notifications (which is generally in line with the five-year average). Of the 1,010 filings, five applications for review were cleared as being of likely net benefit to Canada (down from the eight applications for review approved in the fiscal year 2021-22). Notably, the average length of time to complete a net benefit review was 97 days, which exceeds the average time during the previous five years (of about 74 to 85 days). In this regard, the Annual Report notes that this should not be taken as “signalling a new trend in the timelines for net benefit reviews.”

The vast majority of notifications related to investments from the United States, with notably no investments originating from Russia.

Continue Reading 2022/23 Investment Canada Act Annual Report

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

In an unprecedented intervention by the European Commission (EC), the EC recently asserted jurisdiction over and challenged a United States-based merger that falls below the filing thresholds of the EC and each and every European Union Member State. This action threatens to subject future merger transactions with no material connection to European commerce to merger control by the EC. An extraordinary Statement of Concerns, signed-on by former senior competition law agency leaders and competition law experts from around the world, recently published in Concurrences highlights the harmful implications of the overreach by the EC for predictable global competition law enforcement.  Also, in another first, five former Competition Commissioners from Canada are jointly waving the red flag with respect to the EC’s disregard of well-accepted norms established by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Competition Network (ICN) as well as longstanding jurisprudence concerning jurisdiction for the purpose of international merger review.

Continue Reading Buyer Beware!  Aggressive Competition Watchdogs Trying to Block More International Deals – a cautionary tale from the Illumina-GRAIL merger challenge