In a globally competitive environment for capital, the competition measures introduced today, and the way in which they have come about, will create a further chill for business investment – both foreign and domestic. Contrary to the Government’s stated intent, they will also negatively impact competition and ultimately harm consumers. As such, the Business Council of Canada (BCC) urges the Government to reconsider its approach to avoid unintended consequences.
Specifically, the BCC is deeply concerned by the Government’s decision to overhaul the Competition Act through an omnibus bill without meaningful notice or consultation with affected stakeholders. In so doing, the Government has repudiated its promised competition policy review process; undermined the stable and predictable rules of the free market; and increased risk and uncertainty for businesses, consumers, and the broader Canadian economy.
The Competition Act establishes one of Canada’s most important regulatory regimes. As the legal framework which provides the rules by which all businesses operate in the economy, any changes to the Competition Act have far-reaching consequences. The process of amending the Competition Act must therefore be done after extensive consultations with all impacted stakeholders to minimize the possibility of unforeseen and unintended consequences.
That is why the BCC and more than 100 other impacted stakeholders, including academic experts, competition lawyers, labour and consumer groups, as well as various small and medium sized businesses, engaged in good faith with the formal process established by the Government late last year to comprehensively review of the Competition Act. The omnibus bill introduced today violates and invalidates that process to the detriment of all Canadians.
In a further sign of the Government’s bad faith towards stakeholder consultations, it chose to release an expedited summary of comments received to date on the eve of introducing today’s proposed amendments. Participating stakeholders were given no time to review the report, nor to provide any additional feedback to further inform the process.
As the Competition Act amendments included in today’s bill will in no way address the inflationary environment now facing Canadians – and could, conversely, worsen inflation by introducing uncertainty and instability in the free market – it is unclear why the government has assigned such urgency to these measures and included them as part of an omnibus package which contains various other legislative proposals which are entirely unrelated.
The proposed changes to the Competition Act must be removed from the bill and the Government should recommit to its promised stakeholder consultation process. This process must complete the careful consideration and articulation of the most evident areas for reform buttressed by robust engagement with experts and other affected parties. It should be followed by a standalone bill which can be debated fully by all Parliamentarians.
November 1, 2023