David Emerson's appointment to the Canadian Cabinet brings a long absent business perspective to the important cabinet post of Minister of Industry and has implications for possible changes to Canada's competition law.
Prime Minister Paul Martin welcomed David Emerson into the cabinet fold yesterday, awarding the important Industry portfolio to the former British Columbia Deputy Minister of Finance and senior corporate executive. One of eight new faces at the 38-seat cabinet table, as the Minister of Industry, with responsibility for the Competition Bureau and the administration of the Competition Act, Emerson will help shape the future direction of Canadian competition law.
The new Minister’s resumé includes substantial public and private sector experience. Emerson received his Ph.D. in Economics in 1970, and went on to hold a number of high-profile positions within the B.C. Ministry of Finance, culminating in his appointment as President of the B.C. Trade Development Corporation. In 1998, Emerson became the President and CEO of Canfor Corporation, British Columbia’s largest forestry company.
Prior to the recent general election, controversial Competition Act reform proposals were on the agenda of the new Competition Commissioner. The proposals, which appear to enjoy the support of the small business community, include a potential overhaul of the civil reviewable practices regime and a plan to create a per se criminal offence for "hard core" cartels. Hand-picked by Prime Minister Martin to run in last month’s election, Emerson’s policy predilections, and likely impact on the Competition Act reform package, remain to be seen. However, competition lawyers and policy analysts agree that Emerson’s appointment could have far-ranging implications on the ultimate course, shape and outcome of the policy debate.
For more information on the implications of yesterday’s Cabinet appointments or any aspect of Canadian competition law, please contact any member of our Competition Group.
The foregoing provides only an overview. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, a qualified lawyer should be consulted.
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