On June 6, 2012, NDP MP Peter Julian introduced Bill C-430,
An Act to Amend the Competition Act and the Food
and Drugs Act (Child Protection Against Advertising
Exploitation). The private member's bill
would amend the civil misleading advertising section of the
Competition Act to prohibit the
direction of any advertising or promotion, for commercial purposes,
at persons under 13 years of age. The proposed test for such
advertising would take into account the manner, time and place of
the ad and the nature and intended purpose of the product or
business being promoted. The bill also clarifies that advertising
may be found to be directed at persons under 13 even though it is
presented in printed material intended for people 13 and older, in
broadcast during air time intended for persons 13 and older, or in
any manner intended for persons both over and under 13. Finally,
the criminal misleading advertising section of the Act would be
amended to deem all such advertising to be a "recklessly made
representation that is false or misleading in a material
respect", and so child-directed advertising would also violate
the criminal misleading advertising law.
Child-directed advertising is already subject to a patchwork of
regulatory tools. The Broadcast Code for Advertising to
Children restricts broadcast advertisers from
pressuring children to buy or use their products, among other
restrictions. Advertising Standards Canada's voluntary
Canadian Code of Advertising
Standards states that advertising directed at
children "must not exploit their credulity, lack of experience
or their sense of loyalty...". In Quebec, the Consumer Protection Act and
associated regulations impose significant restrictions on the
content and presentation of child-directed advertising.
Bill C-430 has not yet received second reading, and it is
unlikely to be passed in its current form. However, the bill
portends an increased focus on child-directed advertising, and
could lead to increased uncertainty in an already hazy area of law
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The HR Guidelines focus attention on an area that is not typically regarded as an antitrust "hot spot" but has been the subject of several high-profile proceedings in recent years in the United States.
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