Our next Canadian IGF Talks: A Canadian Competition Policy for the Platform Economy on June 8 at 2:00PM EST.

The competition policy debate in Canada is heating up. As Canadians pay seemingly ever-higher prices for their cellphones, internet access, and online shopping, policymakers are turning their attention to whether Canada’s Competition Act is up to the task for the modern digital economy–and what place it should have in the toolkit Canada applies to that task.

After Senator Wetston’s consultation on competition law and policy reform, and a commitment in the federal budget statement to legislative changes as a first step to modernizing the competition regime, the question remains: what directions should competition reform take? Should the purposes of the Competition Act embrace other goals, like privacy? Should the Competition Bureau prioritize consumer protection, and how should it relate to provincial consumer protection authorities and federal sector-specific regulators in doing so? Does doing competition policy on the digital landscape look more like being a behavioural regulator? Is the Competition Act itself already fit-for-purpose for the digital age–such that the burden of change should fall squarely on the Bureau and Tribunal that implement it? Join Vass Bednar, John Lawford, Elisa Kearney, and John Pecman in a conversation moderated by Alexandra Posadzki, with a keynote by Leila Wright on June 8th at 2:00 p.m. EST.


Alexandra Posadzki (moderator), The Globe and Mail
Leila Wright, CANARI
Vass Bednar, McMaster University
Elisa Kearney, Davies Ward Phillipps & Vineberg LLP
John Lawford, PIAC
John Pecman, former Commissioner of Competition of the Competition Bureau Canada

Alexandra Posadzki, Telecom Reporter, The Globe and Mail

Alexandra Posadzki covers the telecom industry for the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business. She joined the ROB in August 2017, after spending about three years covering banking and real estate for the Canadian Press. She has a Master of Journalism degree from Ryerson University, an honours B.A. in psychology and literature from York University and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. She previously worked at the Toronto Star, Business News Network, Global News and The Globe’s B.C. bureau. Her passion lies in using investigative techniques, including Access to Information requests, to produce enterprise journalism that looks beyond the surface of daily news. She has reported considerably on Canada’s burgeoning cryptocurrency industry, including co-writing a series of investigative features on the collapse of Canada’s once-largest cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX.

Leila Wright, Deputy Commissioner, CANARI

Leila Wright is a Deputy Commissioner at the Competition Bureau’s Digital Enforcement and Intelligence Branch (CANARI). CANARI stands for Competition through Analytics, Research and Intelligence, and it will be the Bureau’s high-tech version of the “canary in a coal mine”. It is a centre of expertise on digital business practices and technologies, and provides intelligence expertise for all directorates at the Competition Bureau. She has worked at the Competition Bureau for nine years throughout various positions, including as the Associate Deputy Commissioner in the Competition Promotion Branch. She earned her JD from the University of Toronto in 2007. 

Vass Bednar, Executive Director of the Masters of Public Policy in Digital Society at McMaster University

Vass Bednar is the Executive Director of the Masters of Public Policy in Digital Society at McMaster University. She is a public policy entrepreneur working at the intersection of technology and public policy. She is an interdisciplinary wonk focused on ensuring that we have the regulatory structures we need to embrace the future of work and new ways of living. As an enthusiastic and perpetual student of the policymaking process, she has held leadership roles at Delphia, Airbnb, Queen’s Park, the City of Toronto, and University of Toronto. A graduate of McMaster University’s Arts & Science Program, Vass holds her Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Toronto and successfully completed Action Canada and Civic Action DiverseCity Fellowships. She currently writes a newsletter about Canadian startups and public policy called “regs to riches” and was recently recognized as an outstanding alum with a McMaster “Arch” award.

Elisa Kearney,  partner, Davies Ward Phillipps & Vineberg LLP

Elisa Kearney is a partner at Davies Ward Phillipps & Vineberg LLP. Elisa has a broad regulatory practice with a specialization in competition and foreign investment law. With vast knowledge of Canada’s regulatory framework, she provides strategic advice on numerous federal statutes to domestic and international clients interfacing with the Canadian government. Elisa’s broad-based expertise has earned her the trust of leading technology, communications and media companies; retailers; and consumer packaged goods manufacturers, including in the highly regulated cannabis and food and drug sectors. Clients turn to Elisa to advise on the full range of antitrust, consumer protection and privacy matters, from multijurisdictional merger controls and cartel investigations to reviewable conduct, misleading advertising and ecommerce. Investors in Canada’s communications and cannabis sectors, and companies subject to regulatory frameworks themselves, also rely on her for guidance in navigating Canadian laws. Elisa regularly appears before the Competition Bureau and has acted as external counsel to the Commissioner of Competition and the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission.

John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel, PIAC

John Lawford is Executive Director and General Counsel of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) in Ottawa. John has been with PIAC since July 2003 and Executive Director and General Counsel since September 2012. Prior to coming to PIAC, John was a lawyer at a large national law firm doing medical-legal research. John has also been Research Director at a major Ottawa law firm. John was Special Projects Director and Webmaster for QUICKLAW Inc. from 1992 to 1999. He has an undergraduate degree in English and a Law degree from Queen’s University (1990).John is active in the areas of telecommunications, privacy and financial services from a consumer perspective.

John Pecman, former Commissioner of Competition of the Competition Bureau Canada

With over 34 years of experience enforcing Canada’s Competition Act, John served as the Commissioner of Competition of the Competition Bureau Canada from June 2013 for a five-year term.  He is currently a Senior Business Advisor for Fasken, one of Canada’s largest law firms. John also holds a number of appointments, including as a Fellow for the Canadian Chamber Future of Business Centre, Non-Government Advisor (NGA) to the International Competition Network, Senior Fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute, Vice-Chair of the U.S. Comments and Policy Committee at the American Bar Association Antitrust Section, as well as a TMX Industry Professor at DeGroote Business School at McMaster University. John is an economist with an M.A. from McMaster University.