Letter to The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry in regards to the proposed amendments to the Competition Act in Omnibus Bill C-59.

Dear Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and Minister Champagne,

The Business Council of Canada (BCC) was among the more than 130 stakeholders who participated in the government’s consultation on modernizing the Competition Act, launched in late 2022. When the government unveiled its proposed changes, however, they included many which were not part of the consultation process, raising concerns about the transparency and fairness of the process.

As we wrote in February, we were surprised and disappointed with the government’s decision to amend one of the most important regulatory regimes in Canada through an omnibus bill (i.e. C-59) without adequate notice or additional consultation.  We continue to believe that the proposed changes will have a long-term negative impact on the economy and must be thoroughly studied and debated by Parliament, with a clear understanding of the bill’s intended and unintended consequences.

To date our concerns have been ignored. Worse, a number of late-stage amendments have been brought forward at committee stage without stakeholder consultation, expert testimony, appropriate debate, or comprehensive analysis. 

For example, the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance made significant amendments to Canada’s merger regime in haste, without any notice or consultation, adopting new “bright line” structural presumptions. By advancing these amendments, Canada will abandon its decades-long adherence to a principled, effects-based approach to competition policy without any meaningful consideration, including of its unintended consequences. It will do so by presuming – often incorrectly – that the structure of a market determines competitive outcomes, as well as by inappropriately shifting the burden of proving otherwise to the party that is least capable of demonstrating the point. 

We are equally concerned with the introduction of paragraph 74.01(1)(b.2), which will significantly affect companies making climate-related, net zero, environmental impact or similar claims.  The BCC and its members discourage corporate greenwashing and are committed to meeting targets set by your government. We don’t disagree that the government should have strong mechanisms in place to prevent Canadians from receiving false or inaccurate information.  However, the new requirements in our view are overly broad and reflect a substantial, substantive departure from the generally accepted jurisdiction of competition law.

Our diverse membership is rightly concerned with the uncertainty created by the new inherently vague standard, which could apply to every company that makes public representations and warranties with respect to the environment and/or climate change.  We urge you to consider thoughtfully the Commissioner of Competition’s advice and study the best approach to prevent misleading claims concerning a company’s environmental or climate-related performance.

Canada’s business community recognizes the need to modernize our country’s decades-old Competition Act to ensure it remains relevant in a rapidly evolving economy. Strong and robust competition laws are critical to providing consumers with competitive prices and product choices, ensuring that small and medium-sized businesses have an equitable opportunity to participate in the economy, and expanding opportunities for Canadian participation in world markets.

We urge the government to remove all of the proposed Competition Act changes in Bill C-59 and put them before Parliament as a separate bill so that the full legal effects can be properly assessed and debated. Doing so would ensure that important elements of C-59, such as the long-awaited investment tax credits for clean technology and carbon capture sequestration, come into force while minimizing the unintended consequences created by the Standing Committee’s last-minute amendments to the Competition Act.


Goldy Hyder