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GET YOUR MONEY BACK! Misconduct and malpractice. Investment industry "best and worst practices". Information to improve public protection. Expert witness services for industry and investors. Forensic investment analysis. • View topic - Competition Bureau ignores Competition Act?

Competition Bureau ignores Competition Act?

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Re: Criminal Provisions of Competition Act apply to industry?

Postby admin » Sat Sep 05, 2009 10:21 pm

you simply must read Markarian vs CIBC case at www.investorvoice.ca

why?

because the judge's comments in and around section 263, if I recall correctly, speaks eloquently to the fraud, misrepresentation and misinformation perpetrated by the broker, CIBC and the industry overall.

These things (misrepresentations) are in the criminal provisions of the Competition Act of Canada.
Just try and get the comp bureau to understand their responsibility and act on these rules. They dont even get it.

Seriously, read the case and then ask yourself why no authiorities in Canada, police or otherwise have addressed the fraud involved.
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Re: Criminal Provisions of Competition Act apply to industry?

Postby admin » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:51 pm

PART VII.1 DECEPTIVE MARKETING PRACTICES

Misrepresentations to public

74.01 (1) A person ... who, for the purpose of promoting, ... the supply or use of a product or ... any business interest, by any means whatever, (a) makes a representation to the public that is false or misleading in a material respect.
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Re: Criminal Provisions of Competition Act apply to industry?

Postby admin » Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:34 am

April 6, 2009

Melanie L. Aitken, Interim Commissioner of Competition
50 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0C9

Dear Melanie,

I am writing to notify the minister and the head of the Competition Bureau of what appear to be violations of duty by an officer of the Competition Bureau.

Sadly, what started out as a simple complaint about misrepresentation within the financial services industry, now must be looked at in the light of a failure to act on the part of a public servant in your agency.

Having recently given evidence of misrepresentation offenses to the Competition Bureau, offenses by members of the investment industry in Canada, I feel the officers charged to look after this complaint did not understand their duty to the Competition Act, and brushed aside the complaint claiming “others” were responsible. They failed to do the minimum required to even understand the allegations, and to understand their obligation to act on the complaint.

I add further, the unusual and unique circumstances whereby the competition officer I spoke to refused to place in writing her comments to me. I felt as if I were dealing with a third world bureaucrat when it became clear that secrecy was the method by which this person operated.

Here is the correspondence that this public servant was willing to place in writing to me:

April 2, 2008
Dear Mr. Elford,

I acknowledge receipt of your concerns. As you know, the Bureau is fully prepared to discuss your complaint by telephone. If you fail to contact the undersigned at the number indicated below prior to April 8, 2008, this matter will be considered closed.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Sincerely,

Valery Parkinson
Competition Law Officer

Other than the above, she refused to deal with my complaint in a written manner.
One would have to wonder what exactly she feels she has to hide.


After taking some time to consider the alternatives, and to further understand the issues, I write to repeat my concerns and complaints of misrepresentation of Canadian consumer, which I understand to be illegal under the act you administer. I add to these concerns, a further understanding that the criminal code of Canada prohibits act of negligence by officers of your department. I feel that the dismissal and the less than professional understanding and treatment of this case was an example of negligent behavior by one of your competition officers. Our economy is suffering extreme damage at this moment and I partially blame persons in positions of authority who look the other way and fail to understand their job. This appears to be the case here.

My original (and still unsolved) complaint was about the common practice of misleading and misrepresenting professional standards, duties, and obligations of a professional to customers when in fact the persons in the investment industry making this (mis)representation are licensed, trained and paid in an entirely different and distinct license category, namely the license category of “salesperson”. It takes less time to become a licensed financial salesperson in Canada than it takes to become a plumber or a hairdresser, and yet nearly each and every one of those persons is misrepresenting themselves to the consumer as a professional “advisor”. Please tell me that the Competition Act would not be interested if they were to discover persons representing themselves to be doctors, when in fact they held no such license or qualification.

I ask that this matter be treated with the maximum seriousness, and I suggest that failure to do so would place those officers a who brush this aside in violation of their duty. It may in future be found to be a case of negligence on the part of the Competition Bureau and those officers who fail to understand it, and fail to act.

I ask that all communications with the Competition Bureau about my original complaint, and about this subsequent complaint about the competition officer mentioned herein, be handled professionally, and in writing.

Thank you for looking into this matter,


Larry Elford
103 - 7 A Ave South
Lethbridge AB T1K 1N3
Cc:
Minister of Industry, The Honorable Tony Clement

Melanie L. Aitken, Interim Commissioner of Competition

Media

John Samuel
Director General, Management Accountability Framework

Christian Dion
Director, Planning and Performance, Management Accountability Framework
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Postby admin » Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:30 am

April 2, 2008

Dear Mr. Elford,

I acknowledge receipt of your concerns. As you know, the Bureau is fully prepared to discuss your complaint by telephone. If you fail to contact the undersigned at the number indicated below prior to April 8, 2008, this matter will be considered closed.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Valery Parkinson
Valery Parkinson
Competition Law Officer
Agente du droit de la concurrence
(819) 953-1610 fax/télécopieur(819) 997-3835
Parkinson.Valery@cb-bc.gc.ca
Competition Bureau/Bureau de la concurrence
50, rue Victoria Street, Gatineau QC K1A 0C9
Gouvernement du Canada - Government of Canada
www.cb-bc.gc.ca
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Postby admin » Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:57 pm

April 1, 2008

To: Valery Parkinson
Competition Law Officer

(819) 953-1610 fax/télécopieur(819) 997-3835
Parkinson.Valery@cb-bc.gc.ca
Competition Bureau/Bureau de la concurrence
50, rue Victoria Street, Gatineau QC K1A 0C9
Gouvernement du Canada - Government of Canada
www.cb-bc.gc.ca

Re: complaint alleging criminal violations of the competition act of Canada that are affecting Canadian investment consumers

Valery, it is my understanding that you refuse to discuss this matter in writing. It is also my understanding that you had already chosen to close this file, as per our conversation in March. I am frankly surprised at what possible motivations would allow you to close an investigation without interview with the complainant or with others who may have information of relevance, and quite shocked at your choice to maintain an unwritten record of your investigative process.

I will thus reiterate to you my concerns and will continue to try to have them investigated at a level where they may be dealt with.

"It is my belief that investment practices which are misleading and misrepresentative to the public are taking place with the knowledge and awareness of the Competition Bureau. It is thus becoming aware to me, that the ineffectiveness of this bureau is becoming a rather large component of support for investment industry misdeeds, misleading practices, and behaviors that are not in the interests of the investing public, not legal, and that these misdeeds are costing Canadians between $30 billion and $60 billion dollars per year. I trust that this matter warrants investigation and application of the law."


I thank you for your time.

Larry Elford www.investoradvocates.ca


CC. Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew, Toronto Star

Former NDP Finance Critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis

NDP Industry Critic, Peggy Nash

NDP Finance Critic Tom Mulcair

Sheridan Scott, Commissioner for Competition Bureau

Minister of Industry, Hon Jim Prentice

Hon Scott Brison, Liberal Industry Critic

John Middlemiss, National Post jmiddlemiss@nationalpost.com

Jacquie McNish, Globe and Mail jmcnish@globeandmail.com

Brian Facey, Blake Cassels & Graydon

Neil Findelstein, Blake Cassels and Graydon

Ted Menzies, Parliamentary Secretary to The Minister of Finance
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Postby admin » Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:53 pm

From: Parkinson, Valery: #CB - BC
To: larry elford
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2008 7:18 AM
Subject: FW: query


Dear Mr. Elford,

This will serve as a reminder of the Bureau's invitation to contact the undersigned by telephone in order to obtain further clarification of, among other things, the application of the Competition Act and the operations of the Competition Bureau. We look forward to your contact at 819-953-1610 at your convenience.

Please be advised that if no response to this message has been received by April 8, 2008, this matter will be considered closed.

Sincerely,

Valery Parkinson
Competition Law Officer
Agente du droit de la concurrence
(819) 953-1610 fax/télécopieur(819) 997-3835
Parkinson.Valery@cb-bc.gc.ca
Competition Bureau/Bureau de la concurrence
50, rue Victoria Street, Gatineau QC K1A 0C9
Gouvernement du Canada - Government of Canada
www.cb-bc.gc.ca
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Postby admin » Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:50 pm

Dear Mr. Elford,

I acknowledge receipt of your concerns. As you know, the Bureau is prepared to discuss your complaint by telephone. Please provide a phone number in Alberta where we might contact you. In the alternative, please contact the undersigned at 819-953-1610 at your convenience and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Valery Parkinson
Competition Law Officer
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Postby admin » Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:59 pm

To: Competition Law Officer

Thank you for your time on the phone the other day. I appreciate the polite discussion and I will continue to correspond further with your agency (as well as with others who may have an interest) in writing until such time as the Competition Act is applied properly and fairly as the law requires. I hope that your decision to close this file without first talking to myself or to others (victims of financial crime as well as industry experts who can document and support the allegations) will be corrected in light of our conversation and the following information. Please consider this an official appeal and a request to have the matter turned over to your appeals division for review.

You told me in our very first conversation, that you had already closed the file, without even an interview with myself or with victims of the crimes alleged in the complaint. It leaves a large number of victims without access to the law you were hired to administer. I cannot stress how short sighted and faulty this appears on the surface.

To also clearly convey to me that you refuse to communicate in writing about this matter indicates a level of secrecy about your activities, good or bad. This level of secrecy feels more like dealing with a Russian bureaucrat than a professional in the Canadian public service. I trust that there are professionals in the competition bureau who do not conduct their public service business in such secrecy, and I hope that this matter can be handled in a more professional less hidden manner.

For you to imply that (and I will paraphrase my understanding of your words) “I see no violation of the law here because there are other agencies who “should be” in charge, is to dodge the issue and fail in your job as a Competition Law Officer. Your agency is in charge of “misrepresentation”. These other agencies you mention to me as the solution may or may not be responsible for satisfying the requirements of this law, and indeed they may or may not be bothering to even follow this law. I say they are not. I have examples and victims who wish their voice to be heard. I hope your agency is able to investigate this properly and not simply question those who might be guilty, and accept their answer as the truth.

Finally, for you to dismiss this complaint prior to even talking to myself, or to known victims, or unbiased industry experts, and as you admitted, prior to even knowing if these other agencies were ever approached by me with the issue, is a true failure to investigate on your part. I am sorry but your job requires a higher degree of understanding of the matter at hand and also of the human suffering that may be caused or assisted by these failures to investigate.

I ask that this matter be turned over to a qualified investigative person who is capable of and willing to do an investigation into this matter. The credibility of the Competition Bureau deserves to be protected from the example that is currently in place.

I thank you for your time and I will look forward to hearing from the Competition Bureau so that this matter may be properly put to rest.

Larry Elford
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Postby admin » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:35 pm

Having had the better part of a day to digest the treatment that my wife and I received from the competition bureau I can now make the following comments without quite losing control:

1. The competition bureau of Canada positively refused to correspond in writing on a formal complaint. Being forced to talk on the phone with a lawyer in the criminal division felt la lot like what I imagine dealing with a corrupt third world police official would be like. Fear of tape recorders, questioning me on who was in the room with me, scripted talking points, and again, a confirmation that there would be no written record of this conversation. Truly bizzarre to imagine all of this just to protect their department from having to investigate claims of financial misrepresentation and financial abuse of Canadians.

2. Without confirming whether or not I had made complaint to any other organization, this competition bureau informed me that the case was considered closed prior to even talking to myself on the complaint. No interview.

3. One of the reasons they deny investigation into misrepresentation is that there are other agencies responsible for this industry. I submit that if the other agencies responsible are in fact helping in the abuse of Canadians, then it should not matter who may or may not be responsible, but rather what should matter is whether or not Canadians are indeed suffering from misrepresentation or not. They did not see it as their problem.

I just cannot state enough how much of a consumer protection failure this agency behaved like. It was truly a case of "see no evil" with ones eyes closed in my opinion.
Last edited by admin on Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby admin » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:06 am

I just spent some time on the phone with the competition Bureau. Someone in the criminal matters division in the Gatinuea Quebec office. She was very polite in informing me that the mandate of the competition bureau is in "protecting competitive markets" which I found quite shocking, since my discussion with her clearly indicated a less than priority, almost a non interest in whether consumers were being hurt or not.
I guess I was poorly informed when I assumed that the bureau took consumer protection to be a priority.

She informed me that since investment firm "advisors" appear to be "employees" they would fall under the supervision of firstly the investment firm to regulate, secondly the regulators and thirdly the self regulators, and she was unable or even unwilling to accept the possibility that these avenues may not serve the consumer properly. Misrepresentation in any way did not concern the competition bureau because of this, and she made it clear to me that she could not even understand that a self regulatory agency might not have a duty to protect consumers. Just not her problem.

I was left with my own conclusion that consumers cannot look to the competition bureau to even understand the problem, much less have any interst in pursuing a solution. Please take what you will from my comments and take them up with your legislator if you agree that this needs mention. I feel it (misrepresentation) is one of the root causes of repeated financial scams and schemes that Canadians suffer from.

She also confirmed to me that she refuses to correspond in writing on this matter, and it makes me wonder about the level of professionalism involved.

I will keep trying to find Canadians who can recognize, and understand the problems faced by those who are suffering from financial abuse, and I thank you for your comments and suggestions in doing so.

I cannot state how dissapointed I was in what was a very professional "brush off" by a bureaucrat. Without a single word in writing this issue is now considered "closed", by the agency.

I am sorry to divert any attention slightly away from the current ABCP crisis, but in my own misdirected way, I am trying to help those who are being taken advantage by this crisis.

Keep working. There will be a person in a position of responsibility who can recognize wrongdoing when they see it.
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Postby admin » Wed Mar 19, 2008 8:48 am

posted on the facebook ACBP discussion page


On an indirectly related topic, I have been corresponding with the Competition Bureau of Canada on matters of misrepresentation, misleading sales practices and other violations of the competition act of canada.

These matters relate (in my opinion) to the ABCP situation in regards to the fact that all "advisors" who sold this product can be found to be licensed in the category of "salesperson" with the provincial securities commission (see www.osc.gov.on.ca registration categories for a list of salespersons in Canada) and I feel this to be drastic misrepresentation and thus an illegal practice.

Also related to your situation is the possible misreprestentation of the product you were sold as being top quality, backed and solid.

Enough said about the connection. I have posted the correspoondence with them at

www.investoradvocates.ca which is a web flogg I administer on matters of financial abuse of Canadians

there is also a small forum topic there on ABCP which I can update if anyone has comments they wish to add.

My problem today is that the competition bureau refuses to discuss this matter with me in writing, and I am asking them to correspond with me in writing to avoid some of the bureacratic brush off's and other dismissal treatments which public servants are able to use to avoid doing their job.

Does anyone have any solutions or ideas on how to get a government agency to do what they are charged with, and or to act in a professional manner? Is there a process to shed light on failure to act by a public servant?

I am trying to help in my own way, but it is frustrating to run into bureaurcats who seem to just work on how to not do the job.

thanks for any ideas yo may have
larry elford
lethbridge albertaReply to Your Post
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Postby admin » Wed Mar 19, 2008 8:22 am

Dear Mr. Elford,

As indicated in my previous correspondence to you, the Bureau is prepared to discuss your complaint by telephone. Please provide a phone number in Alberta where we might contact you. In the alternative, please contact the undersigned at 819-953-1610 at your convenience and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Valery Parkinson
Competition Law Officer
-----Original Message-----
From: larry elford [mailto:lelford@shaw.ca]
Sent: March 18, 2008 5:14 PM
To: Parkinson, Valery: #CB - BC
Subject: official complaint to Competition Bureau on systemic matters which support and assist financial abuse of Canadians. Matters under Competition Act.


Valery, thank you for your response. I will request that our correspondence be in writing until such time as a personal meeting may be required. I would like to take a professional and an open transparent path in dealing with your department. Without wishing to offend you, myself and others have been trying to inform the Competition Bureau of financial abuses of Canadians for several years now without much response or action on the part of the bureau. I trust that you understand my hesitation in allowing possible white collar frauds of what may be hundreds of millions of dollars against the public to be handled by a telephone interview, or to be potentially dismissed by a telephone interview. Today, we are now facing the largest financial markets bankruptcy in Canadian history ($33 billion) and I believe it can be related back to systemic abuses that myself and other people have been trying to bring to the attention of your agency and to other regualtory agencies in our country for some time.

I will assure you that if the competition bureau treats this matter with the seriousness that the law requires, I will cooperate fully and to bring forth supporting evidence and testimony from industry experts, to support your investigation. Your help in demonstrating that your department is prepared to take such legal matters seriously is requested. We will not waste your valuable time if it appears as if the department is unable or for some reason unwilling to undertake an open minded investigation into these matters.

Generally, "best practices" in investigation involves a file number, a process, a procedure and a written set of guidelines that parties can be made aware of so there is less misunderstanding. In this regard would you please provide me with information in regard to what process your agency adheres to with complaints, so that myself and interested people can best assist you?

If you have questions which you feel will help you initiate an investigation, or understand the issues better, I would like the opportunity to answer them as best as possible, which may require me to incorporate the knowledge and supporting facts of others on the subject. This can be done best in writing. To enable your understanding of some of the issues, I have included my fifth letter to the Competition Bureau, which gives some fairly specific examples of matters which I believe to fall under your jurisdiction. Other industry experts known to me have similar, related issues that can be described to you in detail once a file or case number is assigned to these matters. The overall tone, and area of expertise of my complaints and of others is in the area of how the Canadian Financial Services (investment) industry serves Canadian consumers, and in matters which we feel that Canadian consumers are being financially abused by practices that fall under your jurisdiction.

I look forward to hearing from you, and to working with your department in a manner that will uphold the law that protects Canadian consumers.

Best regards

Larry Elford

CC. Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew, Toronto Star

Former NDP Finance Critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis

NDP Industry Critic, Peggy Nash

NDP Finance Critic Tom Mulcair

Sheridan Scott, Commissioner for Competition Bureau

Minister of Industry, Hon Jim Prentice

Hon Scott Brison, Liberal Industry Critic

John Middlemiss, National Post jmiddlemiss@nationalpost.com

Jacquie McNish, Globe and Mail jmcnish@globeandmail.com

Brian Facey, Blake Cassels & Graydon

Neil Findelstein, Blake Cassels and Graydon

Ted Menzies, Parliamentary Secretary to The Minister of Finance

enclosure: letter number 5 to competition bureau Dated Feb 6, 2008
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Postby admin » Sat Mar 15, 2008 5:46 pm

Mr. Elford,
I am the competition law officer assigned to examine your query. The Bureau is prepared to discuss this matter with you by telephone. Please provide us with your phone number in Alberta and a time which is convenient for this discussion.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Sincerely,
Valery Parkinson

Valery Parkinson
Competition Law Officer
Agente du droit de la concurrence
(819) 953-1610 fax/télécopieur(819) 997-3835
Parkinson.Valery@cb-bc.gc.ca
Competition Bureau/Bureau de la concurrence
50, rue Victoria Street, Gatineau QC K1A 0C9
Gouvernement du Canada - Government of Canada
www.cb-bc.gc.ca
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Postby admin » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:31 pm

Feb 6, 2008

To: Carey Daoust
Telephone (403) 292-6177
Fax (403) 292-6165
daoust.carey@cb-bc.gc.ca
Competition Bureau
400 639 5th Avenue Calgary,
Alberta T2P 0M9

From: Larry Elford

Re: Breaches of Competition Act, and two official complaints

I write to you for the fifth time in several years in hopes that the competition bureau will find the courage to investigate and enforce what may turn out to be a difficult and challenging complaint. Each time this bureau writes back to me suggesting that this matter does not warrant the application of the law.

Related information to this complaint and previous correspondence with the bureau can be found on the public record at:


www.investoradvocates.ca


It is my belief that practices which are misleading and misrepresentative to the public are taking place with the knowledge and awareness of the Competition Bureau, and that perhaps this Bureau is not taking action due to the strength of the industry involved and the inherent political difficulties in tackling this issue and this industry. It is thus becoming aware to me, that the ineffectiveness of this bureau is becoming a rather large component of support, for investment industry misdeeds, misleading practices, and behaviors that are not in the interests of the investing public, and that these misdeeds are costing Canadians between $30 billion and $60 billion dollars per year. I trust that this matter warrants full investigation and full application of the law.

Complaint #1 That misleading and misrepresenting advertising, and related activity is being used to misinform Canadian investment consumers that they are dealing with trusted investment professionals, when in truth, over 80% will be found to be dealing with persons licensed as “salesperson” under the Provincial Securities Act.
Under the criminal regime, the general provision prohibits all materially false or misleading representations made knowingly or recklessly.

The second complaint, which I feel to be a criminal violation of the Competition Act in Canada, is in the practice of investment firms prohibiting ethical investment salespersons from advertising “commission free” mutual fund sales to the public. I have found this to be the policy personally at two major bank owned brokerage firms, and I direct your attention to the following by way of example:

Despite an investment advisor owing a duty to care for a client seeking his or her advice, and despite that duty of care requiring the “advisor” to recommend the most “suitable” solution to the client to serve the client’s needs;

1. Your investigation will find it difficult to find evidence in Canada of any investment firm allowing the public to be openly told (advertising is specifically banned) that commissions were in fact deregulated in 1987, and that mutual fund commissions are fully negotiable.
2. Your investigation will discover from industry statistics that between 60% and 90% of mutual funds sold by the industry are sold using the choice of the “highest compensation”, when equal, identical and lower cost choices are available to the consumer. These practices are considered illegal, unethical and unsuitable, and are punished in the United States when they are discovered, and I write to ask this competition bureau why they are ignored here in Canada to the detriment of the consuming public?

The above two items point to a policy of “predatory pricing” in my opinion and or industry attempts to collude, gag, or prevent an environment of open competition. I feel open and free competition should be your department’s responsibility. These issues are not at this time addressable by the proper regulatory channels in the investment community due to the self-policing, and self-regulatory nature and the fractured nature of this regulatory community. According to the law, I feel it is up to your department to act on these complaints.

I look forward to your renewed interest in this issue, in light of greater public awareness of white collar fraud, crime and abuse of the public, and to your timely response to these complaints on behalf of all Canadians.

Best Regards

Larry Elford
Lethbridge Alberta www.breachoftrust.ca

CC. Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew, Toronto Star
NDP Finance Critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis
Sheridan Scott, Commissioner for Competition Bureau
Minister of Industry, Hon Jim Prentice
Hon Scott Brison, Liberal Industry Critic
John Middlemiss, National Post jmiddlemiss@nationalpost.com
Jacquie McNish, Globe and Mail jmcnish@globeandmail.com
Brian Facey, Blake Cassels & Graydon
Neil Findelstein, Blake Cassels and Graydon
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Postby admin » Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:39 am

it is starting to become clearer to me why the Competition Bureau has not acted on any legitimate complaint about investment industry practices misleading to the public:


Competition chief called on carpet by Prentice
Misled, Judge Says

Jim Middlemiss, Financial Post

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Tim Fraser, Kier Gilmour For National Post
OTTAWA TO PROBE COMPETITION BUREAU OVER
BEER-DEAL FIGHT: Melanie Aitken, Competition Bureau.
Jim Prentice, the Industry Minister, has called on the country's top competition cop, Sheridan Scott, to look into allegations by a Federal Court justice that her office breached its duty by providing the court "misleading, inaccurate and incomplete" disclosure in the Labatt-Lakeport merger dispute.

In comments outside the House of Commons, Mr. Prentice called the judge's comments "quite serious."

"The judge spoke of misleading and disingenuous conduct and I think that all Canadians believe that ... warrants a response," Mr. Prentice said. "I'll be reviewing the decision this afternoon and I will be asking the head of the Competition Bureau to respond and to provide me with some assurance that they are taking the situation in hand."

That assurance is already in place, said Melanie Aitken, senior deputy commissioner of competition for mergers.

"We were surprised to see that sort of language in the decision," she said in an interview.

The bureau was provided with a copy of the judge's reasons before they were made public in order to review the reasons for concerns about disclosure of confidential information pertaining to the merger and Ms. Aitken said "we have already thoroughly reviewed the matter internally with a view to trying to understand where [the judge] was coming from."

"We reviewed what exactly we had provided to the court in light of her comments and we are satisfied that we did everything appropriate in terms of providing her with the relevant and necessary information. "We do dispute the factual premises in her decision."

Ms. Aitken added that "we're certainly aware of the minister's comment and we look forward to reassuring him about that thorough internal review that we've conducted and our conclusions that we satisfied our obligations and discharged our obligations appropriately."

Scott Brison, the Liberal industry critic, said, "The Federal Court's decision is a damning condemnation of the Competition Bureau. The Competition Bureau has a responsibility to oversee and conduct a fair process, not to be an advocate of one position or another.

"The court's decision indicates the Competition Bureau engaged in incompetence or heavy handed interference: both of which are bad for Canadian business; either of which requires a strong response from the Industry Minister."

The Labatt-Lakeport merger has been a quagmire for the bureau. It lost a Federal Court of Appeal case last week, which held the bureau could not rely on a policy guideline to extend merger reviews beyond the 42 days set out in the legislation.

The latest skirmish involved section 11 of the Competition Act, which allows the bureau to go to court without telling the other side and asking a judge for an order to require merger participants to disclose information.

The judge overturned her earlier decision requiring Labatt and Lakeport to provide additional information after learning that the bureau had previously sought similar production orders that led to Labatt spending $750,000 to produce 7,500 documents.

Justice Mactavish chided the Bureau, noting "the commissioner cannot come before the court ... and represent that extraordinarily extensive information and documentation sought has not previously been requested, when that clearly is not the case."

jmiddlemiss@nationalpost.com
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