Evidence of meeting #41 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was market.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Richard French  Vice-Chair, Telecommunications, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
  • Sheridan Scott  Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

You said earlier that without fines, you didn't have too many cases, because there was no reason to go—

5:20 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

No, I did not say that. I said that there had been cases. We do not have many of them, because the behaviour described under section 79 is favourable to competition, and provides the benefits of competition. This is why there are not many cases. We do not often prosecute, because we see the advantages on the marketplace. It is quite difficult to demonstrate an offence under that section. Certainly, supplementary tools are always helpful.

In an article in the Quebec magazine Les Affaires, we were described as very persistent. Thus, I think of myself as a terrier, rather than a declawed cat.

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

In the gasoline file, let me say that I see you rather like a very peaceful cat.

5:20 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

And I would say that I am like a terrier.

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Regarding the dominant position and the percentage, I find it very difficult to understand what I just saw.

If an entity has 90% of the market, you do not consider that as a criterion. In a given region, the entity that holds 90% of the market automatically buys all the tickets for all the programs that could be beneficial to the region. It wields extraordinary influence.

5:20 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

This is an indicator. Of course, we examine this factor. However, it does not end there.

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Earlier, you said that you did not take it into consideration at all.

5:20 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

No. I said that this was one factor among other factors that we take into consideration.

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

The minister decides that there should be three stakeholders on a given territory. Could it be that someone who holds 90% of the market in a territory would make sure that the other entity keeps 5%, because if there are only two of them, they immediately become subject to regulation? If that is the case, how would you go about evaluating the situation?

5:25 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

I suppose that that would be collusion, and we certainly do have tools for investigating such things.

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Do not give me the collusion example, I cannot take it.

5:25 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

But you are speaking of two competitors who turn into partners—

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Currently, in the territories that are covered, there should be three stakeholders: the first should have 90% of the market, the second 8% and the third 3% of the market. If the second or the third is out of the picture, the region must be regulated.

Would there be a special situation where the chief stakeholder keeps the second one alive artificially to ensure that they are officially in competition?

5:25 p.m.

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Department of Industry

Sheridan Scott

Our study of the telecommunications market shows that it is a very dynamic market. We are no longer dealing just with the telecommunications market. As Mr. French said, there is a steady growth of markets with matching services. Thus, nothing guarantees that telephone companies can control the market by such means.

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Let us take the cell phone market which is not regulated. The prices are about three times higher than in the United States or anywhere else.