* Bureau says reliance on voluntary information hinders work
* Will use existing powers in all but exceptional cases
OTTAWA Jan 30 Canada's competition watchdog
will flex its legal muscle more forcefully from now on to get
information from companies under investigation for abusive
practices, the agency's interim commissioner warned on
The Competition Bureau, an independent law enforcement
agency, has the power to obtain records or question individuals
under oath in non-merger cases, but has recently been trying to
get information voluntarily, said John Pecman, interim
Pecman said that approach has not worked well because
companies delay their responses, provide incomplete information,
or demand the probe be dropped altogether.
"While Einstein didn't practice antitrust law, in this
context, I believe the bureau must take heed of the very
perceptive observation, frequently attributed to him, that the
definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over
again and expecting different results," he said in a speech that
was posted on the agency's website.
He said the agency will not be so lenient in future.
"So, going forward, the bureau's first course of action in
obtaining information from the target of a formal inquiry in
non-merger cases will be, for all but exceptional cases,
obtaining a legally binding section 11 order from the court," he
In Canada's competition law, section 11 allows the
Competition Bureau to force companies to turn over documents and
Pecman did not name companies that had hindered the bureau's
The Competition Bureau has already used compulsory orders to
require the Canadian branches of several foreign banks to
produce records related to possible manipulation of the London
Interbank Offered Rate (Libor).
The Canadian branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc
has taken the bureau to court to challenge its right to
compel the production of documents from outside
The bureau also recently sued Canada's three leading phone
companies BCE Inc's Bell Canada, Rogers Communications
Inc, and Telus Corp for what it said was
misleading advertising about their texting services.