On December 9, 2014, Industry Minister James Moore announced
that the Price Transparency Act had been introduced in the
House of Commons in an effort to address and expose firms that are
engaged in unjustified geographic price discrimination, i.e., that
sell products or services in Canada at prices that are higher than
similar goods or services sold in the U.S. and which are not
The proposed legislation is likely to be of significant interest
to U.S.-based companies that have sales into Canada, particularly
if they employ country-specific pricing strategies.
If passed, the legislation would amend the existing Canadian
Competition Act to allow the Commissioner of Competition
to seek court orders to require a company to produce evidence
relevant to the price difference between Canada and the
U.S., including production of records (such as internal strategic
documents and emails) and written returns of information. The
expanded investigative powers would apply to Canadian and
non-Canadian affiliates of the company subject to the
Additional notable aspects of the proposed legislation
The Commissioner would be required to issue a public report on
the findings from such an investigation, in an effort to identify
the causes of price discrepancies between the U.S. and Canada, and
expose any price discrimination.
There is no specified market share or market power threshold
for an inquiry. Large and small companies alike would be subject to
the Commissioner's new investigative powers.
There is no safe harbour or de minimis threshold in
price differences for an inquiry. Any price gap between Canada and
the U.S., no matter how small or large, could be subject to the
Commissioner's new investigative powers.
The proposed legislation singles out price differences between
the U.S. and Canada. Price differences between Canada and other
jurisdictions are not the focus of the proposed legislation.
The Minister of Industry's public announcement and
backgrounder is available here.
The proposed amendments to the Competition Act (Bill
C-49) are available here.
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