Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Good News for Trade Lawyers in Conservative Platform

One week before the Canadian federal election, Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative Party revealed their platform.  The following promises would be interesting from a trade perspective:

- Increased Trade with Emerging Markets - Prime Minister Harper will continue to pursue trade agreements, such as those successfully reached with the European Free Trade Association, Colombia, Peru and Jordan. We are committed to seeing these deals passed by Parliament. In light of the recent setback at the World Trade Organization negotiations, a re-elected Conservative Government will move aggressively to improve Canada's network of bilateral and regional free trade and economic agreements.

- Opening More  Trade Offices in Emerging Markets - Prime Minister Harper will proceed with plans to open new trade offices in China, Mongolia, Mexico, Brazil and India (in Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad).

- Unilateral Abolishion of Certain Tariffs - Prime Minister Harper will also support capital investment by abolishing tariffs on a wide range of imported machinery and equipment.

- Reduction of Taxes on Diesel Fuel - Prime Minister Harper will reduce the federal excise tax on diesel and aviation fuel by half - from four cents per litre to two cents per litre - reducing the price of transportation by truck, train, plane and ship, and helping to bring downward pressure on consumer prices.

- Protection of Consumers with Stronger Competition Laws - Prime Minister Harper will implement a strong consumer protection plan by modernizing Canada's outdated competition laws. New competition laws will:

  • Make it easier to investigate and prosecute bid-rigging and hard-core cartel behaviour such as price fixing.
  • Raise maximum penalties for bid-rigging and cartels to a $25-million fine and 14 years in prison.
  • Introduce fines of up to $10 million – $15 million for repeat offenders – for companies that abuse their dominant market position.
  • Provide for restitution for consumers who fall victim to deceptive marketing practices.


 - Ensuring Truth in Labelling for Consumer Goods - Prime Minister Harper will extend our new truth in labelling guidelines for food products to consumer products, ensuring that Canadians know more about the products they purchase. As was done with food products, the use of the “Product of Canada” label will be restricted to consumer products where both the contents and processing are Canadian. Qualified “Made in Canada” labels will be used for consumer products that are processed in Canada, but contain imported content, such as “Made in Canada from imported contents.

- Enacting Stronger Consumer Product Safety Legislation - Prime Minister Harper will follow through with consumer product safety legislation providing for more inspection and testing of food, toys and consumer products to ensure that dangerous products are swiftly recalled. The legislation will also establish stiff offences and penalties for violations. Canada will ensure that any regulation of natural health products balances the protection of Canadians' health and safety with the freedom to choose alternative products.

- Protecting Creators and Consumers of New Ideas and Products - Prime Minister Harper will reintroduce federal copyright legislation that strikes the appropriate balance among the rights of musicians, artists, programmers and other creators and brings Canada's intellectual property protection in line with that of other industrialized countries, but also protects consumers who want to access copyright works for their personal use.
Canada will also introduce tougher laws on counterfeiting and piracy and give our customs and law enforcement services the resources to enforce them. This will protect consumers from phoney and sometimes dangerous products that are passed off as reliable brand-name goods.

- Restriction on Unfair Text Messaging Charges - Prime Minister Harper will prevent telecommunications companies from charging fees to customers for receiving unsolicited commercial text messages. He will amend the Telecommunications Act to strengthen the power of the Commissioner of Complaints for Telecommunications Services, including the creation of a code of conduct for wireless services. He will also create a compliance and deterrent power that allows the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to block these and similar unfair charges in the future.

- Making Canadian Business More Competitive - Prime Minister Harper will improve the competitiveness of Canadian business, ensuring both a level playing field for companies and protection for Canadian consumers.

  • The Federal Government will increase the threshold for foreign investment reviews to attract more foreign investment to Canada while ensuring that such investments are of net benefit to Canada.
  • The Federal Government will ensure that consumer interests are protected and that the government can block foreign takeovers that would jeopardize our national security.
  • The Federal Government will work to ensure that Canadian companies also receive increased access to investment opportunities abroad.
  • The Federal Government will open up two regulated sectors, airlines and uranium mining, to allow increased foreign investment, subject to any investments in these sectors meeting the national security test and negotiation of reciprocal benefits with our trading partners.

- Breaking Down Trade Barriers within Canada - Prime Minister Harper will work to eliminate barriers that restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility between provinces and territories by 2010. In 2007, the government announced that it was prepared to use the federal trade and commerce power to strengthen the Canadian economic union. Since that time, we have seen progress among the provinces and territories in strengthening the existing Agreement on Internal Trade.

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