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
- 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;
- increasing the penalties (both fines and imprisonment) for conspiracy and bid-rigging;
- introducing fines (a.k.a. Administrative Monetary Penalties) for abuse of dominance;
- decriminalizing price discrimination, price maintenance and predatory pricing, and providing for civil review of these practices;
- 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
- substantially increasing the threshold for ministerial review of a proposed foreign acquisitions of Canadian businesses;
- removing some sector-specific review thresholds;
- 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.