welcome to the land of alright
Economist Robin Shaban and I have another piece in the Globe and Mail that I wanted to share. 👇
It’s no surprise that we think Canadas competition legislation could benefit from a refresh. We also need more research in the space. We’ve made policy decisions in the pandemic that have privileged larger firms, and haven’t yet been able to fully quantify the implications for independent businesses and entrepreneurship.
After Robin and I attended the Competition Bureau’s Summit a few weeks back. Instead of discussing competition in a digital age or looking at anti-trust innovation and experimentation in other jurisdictions, the discussion veered into “regulation = red tape and red tape is BAD” territory. It was boring, and made me feel like I was on a different policy planet. A keynote from legendary Senator Amy Klobuchar was pre-recorded, so we didn’t have to deal with her asking us: What is up with your approach, Canada?
The OECD estimates that absent excessive market power, the incomes of the poorest 20% of Canadians could be 20% greater and the wealth held by the top one percent could be 24% lower.
Dan Price @DanPriceSeattleAmazon: profit up 100% Walmart: profit up 80% Target: profit up 80% Lowe's: profit up 74% Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google: stock at record high Small businesses: 21% closed; revenue for rest down 30% We're seeing a monumental wealth transfer from mom & pops to conglomerates.
FWIW, there have been a few promising steps taken by our own Competition Bureau to evolve the nation’s approach in the space: for one, Canada is funding the “OECD Gender Inclusive Competition Policy project,” examining how a gender lens could help deliver more effective competition policy. Last summer, the Bureau also launched a market study into Canada’s health care sector, centering on Canadians’ access to virtual health care products and services. These are worthwhile initiatives that are tangential to the urgent need to modernize the Competition Act.
Robin and I have also been a little bullied by Bay Street for our scholarship and advocacy - which is uncool yet gloriously motivating. Indeed, when long-time actors in the competition policy space coordinate to extinguish and discount the voices of new entrants they display the very same behaviour of monopolist ruffians that are intolerant of upstart competitors and reveal themselves to be intellectually anti-competitive.
ICYMI: A couple of weeks ago, I had a great conversation with Matt Stoller and Ali Haberstroh about competition policy trends and independent businesses.
*You can watch/listen to the interview here. 📺
Vass Bednar is the Executive Director of McMaster University’s new Master of Public Policy in Digital Society Program.