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Arlan W. Gates

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Arlan Gates practices commercial and regulatory law as a member of Baker McKenzie's Global International Commercial & Trade and Antitrust & Competition groups. He leads the Canadian Antitrust, Competition and Foreign Investment Practice, which has been ranked by The Legal 500 and Chambers Canada. He is also ranked by Chambers Canada and by Best Lawyers in the area of advertising, marketing and data protection law and leads the Canadian Advertising, Marketing and Regulatory Practice, providing support to domestic and international businesses on regulatory aspects of market entry and ongoing commercial operations in Canada and abroad. Arlan joined Baker McKenzie as a summer associate in 1999 and has also worked in the Firm's Sydney office.

The Canadian Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) has announced a significant initiative to explore the impacts of artificial intelligence (“AI”) on competition in Canada. On 20 March 2024, the Bureau published a discussion paper, entitled “Artificial intelligence and competition”, and has requested feedback from the public. The outcome of the consultation may have significant implications for both businesses that develop and those that use AI technologies.

The Canadian Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) has announced a significant initiative to explore the effects of artificial intelligence (“AI”) on competition in Canada. On 20 March 2024, the Bureau published a discussion paper, entitled “Artificial intelligence and competition” (“Discussion Paper”), and has requested feedback from the public. The Bureau is seeking to better understand how AI can affect competition in Canada. Submissions are due by 4 May 2024.

The Government of Canada has announced the 2024 financial thresholds for pre-merger notification and clearance under the Competition Act, and for pre-closing, “net benefit” review and approval under the Investment Canada Act (“ICA”). While the Competition Act “size of transaction” financial threshold remains the same, the ICA financial thresholds have increased. Significantly, this is the third year in a row that the Competition Act financial threshold has remained unchanged at CAD 93 million in a bid to maintain the number of transactions subject to review by the Commissioner of Competition.

Long-awaited reforms to the Canadian Competition Act (“Act”) have arrived and represent the most comprehensive amendments to the Act in over a decade. Recent and proposed amendments to the abuse of dominance provisions are likely to have a significant impact on how businesses operating in Canada assess and manage risk.

Modernization of Canadian competition law and foreign investment review is well underway. Recent and further proposed legislative amendments will impact how dealmakers assess substantial and procedural regulatory risk for mergers. This update summarizes the recent legislative amendments to the Competition Act (Act) that came into effect on 15 December 2023 and proposed legislative amendments to the Act and Investment Canada Act. Dealmakers should be aware of these amendments as they plan mergers involving Canadian businesses in 2024.

In 2023, the Government of Canada focused on modernizing Canada’s Competition Act and Investment Canada Act, proposing legislation that will overhaul existing legislative frameworks. Looking forward, we expect the Government will continue its modernization agenda and the respective authorities will continue to take strong enforcement positions against perceived anti-competitive conduct and investments that raise potential national security concerns in 2024.

On 21 September 2023, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-56 or the Affordable Housing and Groceries Act (“Bill C-56”), broad legislation that includes amendments to the Competition Act that, if adopted, will repeal the efficiencies defense in mergers, expand the scope of agreements and arrangements subject to the civil competitor collaboration provision, and permit public interest market studies. The proposed amendments to the Competition Act align with the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that the federal government would take action to enhance competition and drive down prices for Canadians, with a special focus on the grocery sector.

It is frequently observed that children are especially impacted by advertising, and special attention must be paid when marketing to them. Historically, with the exception of Quebec, which has prohibited virtually all forms of commercial advertising directed at children under the age of 13 since 1980, Canada did not specifically restrict advertising targeted at children. However, driven by growing concerns due to increases in obesity and chronic diseases, plans have now emerged to tackle these issues, including three recent developments enacted by the food and beverage industry, the federal Parliament, and Health Canada, respectively.

The Canadian Competition Act was recently amended to, among other things, criminalize wage-fixing and no-poach agreements between unaffiliated employers. Following a one-year grace period that permitted Canadian employers to ensure they are in compliance, the criminal prohibition will come into effect on 23 June 2023.

In June 2023, amendments to the Competition Act take effect that will allow Canadian employees to sue their employers for conspiratorial conduct. In this video, baker McKenzie Litigation and Competition lawyers reflect on the new buy-side conspiracy causes of action through the lens of a recent Federal Court of Appeal case, consider the expected implications of the new amendments on employers’ class action exposure, and discuss what employers can do to mitigate these new risks.