Opinion – The Competition Bureau’s Approach to the Goals of Competition Policy

April 19, 2022

What should be the goals of competition policy?

Section 1.1 of the Competition Act provides that promoting competition promotes efficiency, competitive prices and product choices, and tends to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have an “equitable” opportunity to compete.

In a recent paper to support Senator Howard Wetston’s consultation, I expressed concern that the objectives found in the Competition Act may conflict with one another. 

For example, efficiency may conflict with competitive prices where a merger lowers costs and raises prices.

After canvassing different options, and different arguments, I leaned to adopting a narrower efficiency focus in s. 1.1, while leaving pursuit of other important social objectives to other legal instruments.

Meanwhile, in a recent statement, the Competition Bureau “strongly opposes” any change to s. 1.1. While there are reasonable arguments for the status quo, the Bureau instead offers arguments that are largely unconvincing.