Prime Minister Stephen Harper has, in the midst of the current
election campaign, provided his first substantive response to the
Wilson Report. In his September 12 speech to the Halifax Chamber of
Commerce, the Prime Minister announced that, if re-elected on
October 14, 2008, the Conservative Party will implement a
number of the recommendations in the Wilson Report.
The most significant proposed change pertains to the current
restrictions on foreign investment contained in the Investment
Canada Act. Proposed amendments to that statute include (i)
raising, over a period of four years, the threshold for requiring
Ministerial approval of foreign investments to C$1 billion from
C$295 million, (ii) improving the transparency of the review
process by requiring that the responsible Minister provide
explanations for investment rejections while permitting the
Minister to provide reasons for approvals if the Minister wishes to
do so, and (iii) adding a national security review mechanism that
would allow the Minister to block investments on the grounds of
national security. (The announcement with respect to the national
security review mechanism is effectively a reaffirmation of an
earlier promise by the Government to establish such a mechanism and
his proposal to increase the review threshold did not indicate if
the method for determining asset value would change in the manner
proposed in the Wilson Report.)
In addition to changes to the Investment Canada Act, a
re-elected Conservative government would increase the limit for
foreign investments in Canadian airlines to 49 percent from 25
percent through bilateral negotiations with Canada's
trading partners. Also, with respect to uranium mines, the
government would change the current foreign ownership rules that,
with minor exceptions, require a minimum level of 51 percent
Canadian ownership, to a higher but as yet unannounced level of
foreign ownership provided that such ownership meets a
to-be-developed "national security" test and that the
investor's home country provides reciprocal benefits to
The Prime Minister did not address other changes to the
Investment Canada Act recommended by the Wilson Report
(see our July bulletin). Also left untouched are Canada's
current policies regarding domestic bank mergers and existing
limits on foreign ownership in the Canadian telecom industry.
The Conservative Party, in a "Backgrounder" issued in
connection with the Prime Minister's speech, stated that a new
Conservative Government would "also ensure that Canadian
consumers are protected from cartels or unfair competition".
This hints at a proposal to amend Canada's current cartel laws
in accordance with the Wilson Report (see our July bulletin) to
more closely resemble the cartel laws in the United States (i.e.
per se illegality for behaviour such as price fixing that
is unambiguously harmful to competition and consumers, and a civil
review approach for behaviour, such as joint ventures between
competitors, that may be pro-competitive). It remains to be seen
whether the Prime Minister will make a further announcement on this
The proposed changes to the Investment Canada Act are
likely to be controversial and may not become law if the
Conservatives do not win a majority government.
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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