Interim Commissioner of Competition
John Pecman and Senior Deputy Commissioner of Mergers
Kelley McKinnon recently attended a breakfast seminar at
Stikeman Elliott, to speak to an overflow crowd of clients and to
answer questions related to their visions for the future of the
Both Commissioner Pecman's and Deputy Commissioner
McKinnon's remarks focused primarily on the importance of
enhanced trust and collaboration between the Competition Bureau and
its stakeholders, both domestic and international. Mr. Pecman
emphasized that the Bureau must move to a "collaborative,
horizontal approach" in engaging with the business and legal
communities and with Canadian consumers. Ms. McKinnon noted the
Bureau's commitment to maintaining an open dialogue with
businesses when it reviews proposed mergers, and giving parties
clarity as to the issues it has raised, the concerns it has
identified and the additional information it requires.
Interim Commissioner Pecman highlighted the importance of
collaboration with domestic and international governments as a key
tenet of the Bureau's enhanced focus on trust and
collaboration. He cited, for example, collaboration between the
Bureau and various police and enforcement authorities related to
enforcement of the conspiracy and bid-rigging provisions of the
Act; collaboration on training and enforcement with Public Works
and Government Services Canada (the main procurement arm of the
Canadian government); joint efforts with Canada's Anti-Fraud
Centre; collaboration with the CRTC and Transport Canada regarding
multi-agency merger reviews; and collaboration with international
governments and organizations (including, most notably, the U.S.
Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission) on criminal,
civil and merger matters.
A second focus of both Mr. Pecman's and Ms. McKinnon's
remarks was the importance of transparency, certainty and
predictability, with respect to how the Bureau reviews mergers, how
it develops, communicates and applies its policies and how it
enforces the Competition Act in general. To this
end, Interim Commissioner Pecman noted that the Bureau was
reviewing its Leniency and Immunity programs (part of the
Bureau's criminal enforcement arsenal) and the associated
guidance documents, along with other issues related to
investigative procedures and e-evidence.
Overall, the remarks from Canada's top competition law
enforcers were welcome news for Canadian businesses. When
Competition Bureau approval is necessary for a contemplated merger,
or where a desirable business practice raises potential concerns
under the Competition Act, the disposition of the
Competition Bureau can be a source of significant uncertainty for
businesses, particularly in light of the lack of jurisprudence
under many of the provisions of the Competition Act. The
Bureau's enhanced focus on trust, collaboration, transparency
and predictability will help to reassure businesses that the Bureau
is a positive and engaged participant in the Canadian business
community, and should help to reduce transaction costs for merging
parties and improve the efficiency of the Canadian economy.
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The Commissioner of Competition addressed innovation, enforcement and policy initiatives at the Competition Bureau in his keynote speech, "Strengthening Competition: Innovation, Collaboration and Transparency."
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