The Budget Implementation Bill tabled today by the Federal Government proposes significant changes to Canada’s Competition Act and Investment Canada Act. These include the following:

(A) Competition Act

  1. introducing per se criminal liability for "hard core" price-fixing and other cartel conduct, coupled with civil review of other agreements that may have anti-competitive effects;
  2. increasing the penalties (both fines and imprisonment) for conspiracy and bid-rigging;
  3. introducing fines (a.k.a. Administrative Monetary Penalties) for abuse of dominance;
  4. decriminalizing price discrimination, price maintenance and predatory pricing, and providing for civil review of these practices;
  5. overhauling the merger review process to increase pre-notification thresholds, extend statutory waiting periods, and provide for US-style "second requests" for information by the Competition Bureau.

(B) Investment Canada Act

  1. substantially increasing the threshold for ministerial review of a proposed foreign acquisitions of Canadian businesses;
  2. removing some sector-specific review thresholds;
  3. introducing a national security review mechanism.  

These measures flow from last summer’s Competition Policy Review Panel recommendations.1 If adopted, they would fundamentally alter Canadian competition and foreign investment review law and practice.