New Interim Commissioner of Competition appointed after Aitken resignation

The federal government recently announced the appointment of John Pecman as the interim Commissioner of Competition for up to a one-year term.

Pecman takes over from Melanie Aitken, who announced her resignation in June. Aitken is a well known personality who had a significant impact on the direction of the Competition Bureau. Aitken spoke at this year’s Dealmakers event that Lexpert founded along with DeloitteThe Globe and Mail and Thomson Reuters.

Aitken recently took a parting shot at the idea of creating large powerful “domestic champion” companies, telling the Globe and Mail that:

If you coddle companies at home by allowing them to exploit Canadian consumers in order to be big on the world stage, you have done your own people a disservice … If that’s the way that a deal comes in, wrapping itself in the flag, I’m skeptical about the real efficiencies that are pushing the deal.

The interim Commissioner also has a track record in the competition community, as Norton Rose partner Kevin Ackhurst highlighted in his Deal Law Wire blog:

Pecman has significant experience with merger enforcement, having been the lead officer in one of the longest-running merger cases brought by the Bureau:  its challenge to the Superior Propane transaction.  That case is noteworthy for having tested the efficiency provisions found in section 96 of the Act, which prevent the Competition Tribunal from taking action against a merger that is, or is likely to, result in gains in efficiency that will be greater than, and will offset, the anticompetitive effects of the merger.

Lexpert will be running a column by Melanie Aitken in our upcoming October issue – keep an eye out for a few lessons from the former Competition Commissioner on how to work with your friends in government.

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