Letter to Ontario Minister of the Environment on the proposed Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Plan

May 5, 2008

The Honourable John Gerretsen
Minister of the Environment
12th Floor, 135 St. Clair Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario
M4V 1P5

Dear Mr. Gerretsen:

RE: Comment Regarding Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Plan EBR Registry Number 010‑3125

On April 9, 2008 the draft of the WEEE Program Plan (the "Plan") was placed on the Environment Registry for public comment. This important step in the adoption of the Plan provides the Competition Bureau of Canada ("Bureau") the opportunity to urge you to keep competition in mind as you consider the Plan.

The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency. We contribute to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice. Headed by the Commissioner of Competition, the organization investigates anti‑competitive practices and promotes compliance with the laws under its jurisdiction. Should you wish to have further information on the Bureau, I would refer you to our website at www.competitionbureau.gc.ca.

The Bureau promotes competition in two ways. We are a law enforcement agency. We investigate allegations of anti‑competitive conduct seeking judicial and quasi‑judicial remedies to stop anti‑competitive behaviour. We also act as an advocate for competition. To that end, we frequently make submissions to legislative bodies or regulators on how to implement reforms that encourage competition.

By engaging in advocacy for competition, the Bureau has the opportunity to ensure that competitive factors are taken into consideration in the formulation of policies. We hope that by having the competitive dynamics and implications of proposed regulatory schemes considered in the developmental stage, it will become unnecessary to consider them in the context of future investigations into alleged anti‑competitive conduct.

Subsection 5(c) of the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 requires that Waste Diversion Ontario ("WDO") "seek to ensure that waste diversion programs . . . affect Ontario's marketplace in a fair manner". In determining if the Plan affects the existing marketplace in a fair manner, we urge you to consider competition issues. We feel that such consideration is important, particularly when programs for designated materials already exist, such as is the case with WEEE. It is the Bureau’s position that where regulation is required, it should interfere with existing markets to the least extent possible.

You may be aware that the Bureau has been consulted by WDO on a limited basis during the development of the program before you and it has been our pleasure to offer a level of informal feedback on various components of the program. We have also heard the points of view of existing market participants, some of whom advocate for an alternative model and allege that the proposed program will unnecessarily result in the exit of many existing participants from the market.

Please do not infer that in either speaking to various program details raised by WDO, or in failing to advocate for or against any particular model that the Bureau has undertaken an in‑depth analysis on the impact on competition of either the proposed model or any other possibilitiesFootnote 1 or that we endorse any particular model. At this point, it is neither our role nor our intention to urge your adoption or denial of the posted proposed program, as we are unable address the potential impact on competition without a great deal of further analysis. We do, however, encourage you to take whatever steps you feel are necessary to ensure that competition issues are considered when evaluating the fairness of the plan.

We hope the result will be a program that promotes competition while meeting the environmental and social policy goals and requirements enumerated in your program request letter with the minimal amount of regulation necessary.

If we can be of any assistance to you in your considerations, please do not hesitate to contact Gregg Erwin at 819‑997‑4335 or Janet E. Holmes at 819‑953‑8654.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Taylor
Deputy Commissioner
(Civil Matters)

c.c. Ms. Lisa Mychajluk, Senior Policy Advisor, Ministry of the Environment
Ms. Glenda Gies, Executive Director, Waste Diversion Ontario
Mrs. Colette Downie

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