Federal budget starts competition reform but bungles copyright
Updates to the Competition Act must go further to provide true consumer protection.
APRIL 28, 2022 — This week finance Minister Chrystia Freeland presented the government’s 2022 Budget Implementation Act, detailing legislative amendments included in the government’s fiscal agenda. Notably, the Implementation Act included new proposals to revitalize Canada’s competition laws and extend default copyright terms in the Copyright Act.
“Our government just took the first step towards addressing Canada’s broken competition laws,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “The new amendments broaden the scope of the Competition Bureau to look at the anti-competitive business practices of Big Tech and Big Telecom, and that’s a good thing. But this is just barely a start. Unless our government gets rid of the so-called ‘efficiencies’ defence in our Competition Act, which enables mergers to go forward even when they’re clearly harmful for consumers, we’re unlikely to get long-term relief from our sky-high prices for wired and wireless services, amongst the highest in the world.”
“While giving a little to Canadians with one hand, the government took away with the other,” continued Hatfield. Extending the term limit for copyright from 50 to 70 years without forcing rights holders to choose to renew their ownership is sacrificing Canadians' right to create and tell stories with our cultural heritage to no one’s real benefit. Based upon the recommendations given by the government’s own independent committee, many had hoped the government would introduce some kind of limitation on the term extension. It is deeply disappointing to see another example of the federal government putting corporate interest before the needs of people in Canada, especially those of our creators.”
OpenMedia has urged the federal government to immediately overhaul Canada’s Competition Act in a number of key areas, including removing Section 96, also known as the efficiencies defense. An open OpenMedia petition calling on the government to appoint a public interest champion to chair the CRTC is now over 10,000 signatures strong.