Review of Industrial Organization
13: 205–241, 1998.
1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Expanding Responsibilities and Declining
Resources: The Strategic Responses of the
Competition Bureau, 1986–1996
W. T. STANBURY
UPS Foundation Professor of Regulation and Competition Policy, Faculty of Commerce and
Business Administration, University of British Columbia (and T.D. MacDonald Chair in Industrial
Economics (1996/97), Competition Bureau, Industry Canada, Ottawa)
The enforcement of a nation’s laws is one of the most important functions per-
formed by government in a democratic society. Some have argued that it is the key
function of government. This paper is motivated by the real possibility that under
enforcement of the laws (criminal and civil) against restraints of trade could exist
for a long period.
In this paper I examine the changes in the responsibilities of the Director
of Investigation and Research and the Competition Bureau (including the new
Competition Act of 1986) in relation to the resources the Bureau has been given to
carry out its statutory mandate.
This paper also examines the largely exogenous
I am indebted to a number of ofﬁcials of the Competition Bureau (including Tandy Muir-
Warden, Mary Zamparo, John Barker, David Gilkes, Glenn Elder, Don Mercer, Gwill Allen, Margaret
Sanderson and Michael Sullivan) for some of the data used in this paper and for many useful comments
provided on an earlier draft. They, however, should not be implicated in my use or interpretation of
these data. I owe a major debt to Johanna White for word processing services. The usual caveat
applies, of course.
John Barker of the Competition Bureau has suggested that an effective competition policy
depends upon at least three variables: (a) a well-designed law, (b) sufﬁcient resources (public and
private) devoted to enforcement, and (c) effective use of those resources. At least two other variables
should be added: the role of the courts (which adjudicate criminal cases), and deal with appeals
in both criminal and civil cases, and the role of the Competition Tribunal which adjudicates civil
reviewable matters. Their effectiveness is discussed in the papers by Hughes and Sanderson (1998),
Church and Ware (1998), McFetridge (1998), and Chen et al. (1998). The overall effectiveness of
Canada’s competition policy requires consideration of a larger set of variables than are examined
in this paper which focuses on the activities of the Director of Investigation and Research and the
This paper can be seen as one of a series of studies of the administration and enforcement of
competition policy in Canada. Earlier periods have been studied by Gorecki and Stanbury (1991),
Rosenbluth and Thorburn (1963), Gorecki and Stanbury (1979), Gorecki (1979), and Stanbury (1991),
(1993). This paper is drawn from a much more extensive one – see Stanbury (1996a).