Ensuring truth in advertising

The Competition Bureau promotes truth in advertising in the marketplace by discouraging deceptive business practices and by encouraging the provision of sufficient information to enable informed consumer choice.

The Competition Act contains criminal and civil provisions to address false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices in promoting the supply or use of a product or any business interest.

Under the criminal provisions, the general provision prohibits all materially false or misleading representations made knowingly or recklessly. Other provisions specifically prohibit deceptive telemarketing, deceptive notices of winning a prize, double ticketing, and schemes of pyramid selling. The multi-level marketing provisions prohibit certain types of representations relating to compensation.

Under the civil provisions, the general provision prohibits all materially false or misleading representations. Other provisions specifically prohibit performance representations that are not based on adequate and proper tests, misleading warranties and guarantees, false or misleading ordinary selling price representations, untrue, misleading or unauthorized use of tests and testimonials, bait and switch selling, and the sale of a product above its advertised price. The promotional contest provisions prohibit contests that do not disclose required information.

The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, Precious Metals Marking Act and Textile Labelling Act are regulatory statutes. They prohibit false or misleading representations in specific sectors, namely prepackaged consumer products, precious metal articles, and consumer textile articles. These laws set out requirements for basic, standardized labelling information, such as bilingual product descriptions, metric measurement declarations and dealer identity, all of which help consumers to make informed choices.

False or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices can have serious economic consequences, especially when directed toward large audiences or when they take place over a long period of time. They can affect both business competitors who are engaging in honest promotional efforts, and consumers.

Key Information

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