Jennifer Quaid on Canada’s competition laws

On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we sat down with Jennifer Quaid to talk about Canada’s competition laws and how they have shaped the country’s economy.

Why does Canada have competition laws? 

"To provide a framework around what is supposed to be a baseline that markets mostly work, and to correct where, through various circumstances, some players end up with what we call a lot of market power — the ability to act without being constrained by the market — or where there are transactions that lead to increasing market power.”

How did competition law come about in Canada?

"In Canada, the current Competition Act dates back to 1986. Previously, the Combines Investigation Act looked at concentrations of power in sectors with huge consolidation of resources and corporate power, like transportation. The act had a checkered and uneven history, largely because it relied on criminal law, which is very ineffective in this area."

How do we decide what is anti-competitive these days?

"That's where the rubber hits the road. You have to ask, are there some bad things that will happen from this transaction? Will there also be some compensating good things? What's unusual in Canada is that we broke apart those two steps. So you look at whether there are competition problems, then engage in this consideration of the pro-competitive effect.”

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Listen to the full conversation here.