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Public Interest Advocacy Centre Response To “Treatment of Efficiencies in the Competition Act”
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) welcomes this opportunity to submit comments in response to the Competition Bureau’s Consultation Paper, “Treatment of Efficiencies in the Competition Act”. PIAC has been representing consumer interests before various regulatory and administrative tribunals for over twenty-five years, in particular as concerns questions of economic regulation. As a result, PIAC can bring a consumer perspective to bear on the questions raised by the Consultation Paper.
Consumers generally benefit greatly from competition. Lower prices, greater product and service innovation, and expanded variety and choice are all benefits of properly working competitive markets. PIAC strongly supports measures to block the prevention or substantial lessening of competition, through mergers and other structural reorganizations.
PIAC recognizes that in some circumstances competition may need to be subordinated to other factors. One such instance may be the potential of significant efficiency gains arising from a merger. However, such situations should be exceptional. Further, “efficiency gains” must be considered in the context of the other objectives stated in s. 1.1 of the Competition Act, and of the welfare of Canadian society in general.
Although the “efficiency defence” is available under provisions of the Act other than s. 96, it has never been invoked there, and, in PIAC’s view, it likely never will be. Accordingly, in what follows, PIAC addresses the “efficiency defence” as it applies to mergers under s. 96.