On May 28,2013, Canada's Interim Commissioner of
Competition, John Pecman, announced anew Action Plan on
Transparency and underscored the Bureau's commitment to rebuild
trust with stakeholders through increased collaboration. He also
announced a new Whistleblowing Initiative, signalling a desire to
remain vigilant in the area of criminal cartel prosecution.
Emphasis on Collaborative Approach
The Interim Commissioner expressed his intent to build a
"Bureau without borders" by increasing collaboration with
stakeholders, developing a stronger relationship with sectoral
regulators and enhancing co-operation with international
enforcement agencies. He also announced the re-establishment of
"sector days", which will permit companies to provide
specific information to the Bureau regarding the competitive
landscape of their particular industries. Sector days may provide
businesses and their industry associations with an ideal
opportunity o educate the Bureau on key competition issues facing
their respective industries and on nascent developments that are
likely to alter the competitive environment in the future.
In the mergers context, the Bureau will encourage parties to be
more proactive in raising potential competition issues and
proposing solutions from the onset of merger reviews. This is
consistent with the Bureau's recent enhanced encouragement of
pre-filing dialogue with merging parties. Also, in an apparent
departure from past practice, the Bureau will try to provide
greater visibility into its economic analysis in particular
reviews, such as by providing more information regarding its
methodology and assumptions.
In the criminal context, the Bureau introduced a new Criminal Cartel Whistleblowing Initiative,
which aims to encourage the reporting of possible violations of
Canada's criminal cartel provisions. The Bureau's
commitments in this regard build on the statutory protections of
the Competition Act, and provide additional assurances to
keep the identity of a whistleblower confidential.
While the Interim Commissioner indicated that the Bureau will
attempt to resolve its competition concerns by way of consent, he
also underscored that it will not hesitate to take formal
enforcement action where required.
Enhancing Transparency and Predictability
Consistent with previous statements, the Interim Commissioner
emphasized a shift towards greater transparency and predictability
in the application of Canada's competition laws. Some of the
initiatives that the Bureau will pursue include: development of new
bulletins and guidelines; publishing information about the outcome
of inquiries; and developing guidance on investigations and
To this end, he announced a new Action Plan on Transparency which, among other
things, involves publishing additional guidance documents and
providing information regarding the outcome of Bureau inquiries. In
addition, while the Bureau historically has been reluctant to
provide details on its economic analysis during a review, it will
aim to do so going forward.
Compliance as a Competitive Advantage
The Interim Commissioner strongly emphasized the importance of
compliance for gaining a competitive advantage. A strong record of
vigorous compliance with competition law promotes financial
stability, and can improve a company's reputation as well as
its ability to attract and retain employees. From the Interim
Commissioner's remarks, it is insufficient to merely design,
implement and monitor a compliance program. To meet the evolving
needs of a business and to be effective throughout an organization,
competition compliance programs must be continuously revised and
updated, and must be championed by senior business leaders.
Increased Regulatory Interventions
The Interim Commissioner highlighted the Bureau's commitment
to increasing strategic interventions within the regulated sector
by making submissions to and appearing before other government
regulatory agencies, with the aim of increasing competition in
Canada's regulated industries. He also indicated that the
Bureau's approach to interventions is evolving and that it will
be seeking feedback from stakeholders in this regard.
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