The Competition Act – Canada’s antitrust legislation

The Competition Act is Canada’s general antitrust statute. Its purpose is set out in the Act as follows:

“The purpose of this Act is to maintain and encourage competition in Canada in order to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy, in order to expand opportunities for Canadian participation in world markets while at the same time recognizing the role of foreign competition in Canada, in order to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises have an equitable opportunity to participate in the Canadian economy and in order to provide consumers with competitive prices and product choices.”

The Competition Act provides for the review of certain matters by the Competition Tribunal (the Tribunal) on application by the Commissioner of Competition (the Commissioner) or, in some cases, by private parties. These civil reviewable matters include mergers and restrictive trade practices, such as refusal to deal, resale price maintenance, exclusive dealing, tied selling, market restriction and abuse of dominant position. In addition, the Competition Act defines a number of activities that constitute criminal offenses, including cartel conspiracy, bid-rigging, deceptive marketing, deceptive telemarketing, and serious instances of deliberate or reckless misleading advertising. The Director of Public Prosecutions prosecutes these matters in the courts. Private parties may bring civil actions to recover damages suffered as a result of conduct that violates the criminal provisions of the Competition Act, or conduct that violates an order of the Tribunal.

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