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– You are the Commissioner of Competition in Canada and were recently appointed President of the International Competition Network (ICN) at the annual members’ conference held in Moscow on June 1, 2007. Can you tell us why you joined the Canadian Competition Bureau as Commissioner and how you have contributed to the work of the ICN?
– The Competition Bureau is an independent agency of the Department of Industry1 and the Commissioner of Competition reports to the Deputy Minister. You hold the title of Commissioner, as do your five colleagues at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Few people know that the Competition Act predates the U.S. Sherman Act. What were the key dates in the restructuring of Canada’s competition law and institutions? When was the current organization established?
– What exactly is the status of the Competition Bureau? Can you briefly explain your relationship with the Minister of Industry, Parliament and the courts with respect to competition policy and the enforcement of competition laws?
– Can you tell us more about the Competition Tribunal of Canada, its composition and its role? Is it an agency of the Competition Bureau, a judicial or quasi-judicial body?
– You’ve just appointed a special economic advisor to the Bureau. The Bureau was already well known for retaining the services of eminent Canadian economists. What are the objectives of this new appointment?
– The Bureau is responsible for enforcing the Competition Acts and also for protecting consumers. What proportion of your staff is dedicated to these two tasks? So what are your organization’s core priorities?
– What have been the Office’s greatest achievements over the past two years?
– In the same vein, what are the greatest challenges or even difficulties that the Office has faced recently? How have you responded to these challenges?
– Will these issues require an amendment to the Competition Act in the near future?
– Have you considered establishing or have you already established a set of priorities regarding the application of the Competition Act, or do you consider that a competition authority should essentially limit itself to reacting to cases that market players bring to its attention? In what particular circumstances does the Bureau take enforcement action on its own initiative?
– Is there a certain "doctrine of state action" transparent in Canadian law, as in the United States, to protect provincial economic intervention in the market for certain public services? What aspects of antitrust law provide for provincial autonomy? Are there Competition Bureaus in the provinces? Do you develop promotional programs for provincial governments and agencies?
– In France, Quebec’s class action system has attracted a great deal of attention2. Can you briefly describe how consumers can launch class actions against anti-competitive practices across Canada and in a province like Quebec? Are consumers and businesses on the same level when it comes to launching class actions in Canada or Quebec? What is the main difference between class actions in the United States and Canada?
– Can you cite some recent class actions in Canada? Do you favour direct class actions or indirect class actions?
– Turning now to your priorities as President of the International Competition Network, could you tell us about how the ICN works and the new organization you have put in place within the steering group?
– What are your objectives and priorities for the development of the International Competition Network?
– What are or could be the links between the ICN and other forums such as the OECD and UNCTAD that have expert groups on competition? What distinguishes the ICN from other international organizations? Would you say that the ICN is an intergovernmental organization?
– Are there any substantive issues that we’ve overlooked in terms of the Canadian institutions responsible for the Competition Act or enforcement that you’d like to talk about?
Interview conducted by François SoutyDRCCRF, Nantes.
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