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Competition Bureau's inactivity

Canada's Competition Bureau just got a report card that it may not want to show its parents. The Global Competition Review, published by Britain's Law Business Research Ltd., has maintained Canada's 3½-star "good" rating, but warned that the regulator's performance slipped last year after its reputation "appears to have faltered."

The problem? Despite additional staff, the report said the bureau's overall level of activity and timeliness "appears to have slumped over the past few years." Citing anonymous authorities in the competition bar, academics and economists, the report said critics complain that the bureau's "strong" emphasis on policy work and international issues may be "eating up too much of the bureau's resources."

Key points of concern cited are: a decline in cartel fines to $7.9-million last year from $39-million in 2006, a "scant" record of enforcement against companies that abuse their industry dominance and declining efficiency in its reviews of mergers that trigger competition reviews. The report, which ranks the world's leading competition regulators, credited the bureau for its work on an alleged cartel in the chocolate industry. But it chided the Ottawa regulator for its drawn-out reviews of the Labatt Brewing Co. Ltd. merger with Lakeport Brewing Co. Ltd. and its two-year-old abuse-of-dominance probe of sugar makers.

A bureau spokesman said he agrees with the review's finding that criticism reflects a "perception problem." The facts, however, dispute the public image, he said, noting that in the past year the regulator has closed more abuse-of-dominance cases and launched more cartel cases than during the previous 12 months.

We've been hearing for over a year now that the Competition Bureau is investigating the real estate industry and their MLS cartel which controls the Canadian real estate industry but to date no results.

June 11, 2008 in Legal Considerations | Permalink


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