Open Letter to Beth Alexander, Competition Law Officer, Canadian Competition Bureau

Hi Beth,

I hope you’re well.

At the risk of sounding pushy, I’d like to ask you to revisit the price fixing case we discussed earlier this year.

At that stage you told me that you would eagerly await the outcome of the competition authorities’ investigations over this side in Europe. As you may have noticed, the Office of Fair Trading in the United Kingdom has already proceeded with a formal investigation. There has been extensive press coverage of the case.

I realise when you said ‘outcome’ you probably meant the conclusion of the case this side, rather than the onset, but my concern is that these cases are necessarily time-consuming and if you wait until it is finalised it may be too late to rescue the Canadian hotel market.

We were approached again this week by SilverBirch Hotels and Resorts which appear to have 20 or so hotels around Canada. They’ve noted, ‘our hotels are being listed on this site with rates that are not approved by us for sale to the general public’ and insisted that we remove them. We already ‘lost’ Delta Hotels from our site this year and it would be very disappointing to lose another chain. As one of the few independent companies selling Canadian hotels online, I believe that would be a loss for the Canadian hotel trade and the consumer.

I am aware from our discussions that the Canadian competition policy was influenced by the Leegin case in the States and the associated ‘rule of reason’. As noted in our conversations, I personally do not see the connection between a single leather manufacturer and the entire travel industry.

I also understand from you that you believe that there may be sufficient intra-brand competition in the hotel market to keep pricing fluid. Again, my own understanding is that’s unlikely to be the case. Of course I don’t speak as an economist, but rather a long time industry insider.

If you still believe that the Canadian hotel industry will self-regulate then I’ll leave the issue well alone. It was really just because we’re under renewed pressure to observe rate parity out there at a time when the competition authorities over this way are looking carefully at the practice.

I’ve attached the email from SilverBirch hotels. If I can be of any further assistance, please say.



p.s. In the interests of transparency, I have placed a copy of this email on my blog.

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2 Responses to “Open Letter to Beth Alexander, Competition Law Officer, Canadian Competition Bureau”

  1. Oscar says:

    This is a huge issue for Canadian consumers. As a Canadian, I would like to see my tax dollars at work investigating this issue. It seems likely there is some collusion or industry practice to avoid market forces by restricting free market pricing.

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