On January 31, 2013, Mr. John Pecman, Canada's Interim
Commissioner of Competition (Commissioner) met with representatives
of the business and legal community at the offices of McCarthy
Tétrault to discuss the Competition Bureau's (Bureau)
Mr. Pecman has had a long and distinguished career with the
Bureau. He has worked in every enforcement branch of the Bureau and
has held a variety of increasingly senior positions since joining
the Bureau almost 30 years ago.
In his comments, the Commissioner identified the Bureau's
main priorities for his term:
enforcing the Competition Act (Act) based on strategic
cases and regulatory interventions;
ensuring transparency and predictability in enforcement;
building trust through enhanced collaboration.
With regards to the Bureau's enforcement mandate, the
Commissioner indicated that Canadians should continue to expect
vigorous enforcement of the Act. He gave a brief overview of
the Bureau's recent and ongoing enforcement activities,
including judicial proceedings. The Commissioner also discussed the
recent consent agreement reached with Air Canada and United
regarding the decision of the two corporations to enter into a
joint venture on 14 routes between Canada and the United States,
noting that the consent order ensures that passengers will not face
higher prices and decreased choices on those routes.
The Commissioner also spoke about the Bureau's investigation
relating to a conspiracy to fix the price of retail gas in certain
Québec's municipalities. The investigation, in which the
Commissioner played a predominant role while serving in the
Bureau's Criminal Matters branch, resulted in 39 individuals
and 15 companies being charged with criminal price-fixing. The
Commissioner noted that, to date, 30 individuals and seven
companies have pleaded guilty with fines totalling over
$3 million, and that of the 30 individuals who have pleaded
guilty, six have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment totalling
The Commissioner also addressed the Bureau's use of its
formal powers under the Act, and announced that, going forward, in
non-merger, civil matters formal inquiries, the Bureau's first
course of action to obtain information from the target of the
investigation will be to obtain a legally binding section 11
order from the court. As a result, in such matters, the use of
voluntary requests for information will now be limited to
With respect to merger review, the Commissioner indicated that,
in order to enhance its communication and transparency with
stakeholders, the Bureau would strive to publish an increasing
amount of position statements describing its analysis of a
particular proposed merger and summarizing its main findings.
Finally, reaffirming the Bureau's commitment to transparency
and predictability in enforcement, the Commissioner indicated that
the Bureau continues to be open to working with the bar and other
relevant stakeholders, including business groups, law enforcement
agencies and federal, provincial and municipal procurement bodies
to improve and clarify its procedures. To that end, the
Commissioner noted that the Bureau intends to work with the bar to
clarify its procedures with respect to electronic document
production and leniency programs. The Bureau also intends to
develop clear guidelines on the price maintenance provisions of the
Act in the near future.
The Commissioner of Competition addressed innovation, enforcement and policy initiatives at the Competition Bureau in his keynote speech, "Strengthening Competition: Innovation, Collaboration and Transparency."
Used car listing website operator CarGurus Inc.'s attempt to force rival Trader Corporation to supply it with vehicle listing data has encountered a dead end as the Competition Tribunal denied it leave to commence a private application under several provisions of the Competition Act.
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