Montreal, November 29, 2023 – Yesterday, the federal government published its proposed amendments to the Competition Act, as announced a few days earlier in its 2023 Fall Economic Statement. Despite noting some progress, the Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement (CQDE) regrets that the proposals on environmental claims represent a missed opportunity for genuine reform of the legislative framework to limit the phenomenon of greenwashing.

Since the publication of its research report on climate greenwashing in the fall of 2022, the CQDE has been calling for more robust oversight of environmental claims, including substantial reform of the Competition Act. As it stands, the reform misses its mark, despite certain steps in the right direction.

In particular, the organization welcomes the requirement for companies to substantiate their environmental claims with sufficient tests, and the possibility for private parties to have recourse to the Competition Tribunal in cases of misleading advertising (instead of having to go through the Competition Bureau). The bill includes a certification mechanism for agreements between competitors concerning environmental protection, which will enable competitors to collaborate on environmental matters without fear of violating the provisions of the law on agreements between competitors, as well as new provisions on the right to redress.

Despite these interesting improvements, the proposed changes will not bring about the major reform of the greenwashing legislative framework called for by the CQDE. Moreover, the scope of these changes is uncertain, since they are aimed solely at “products,” which could exclude from the framework misleading claims linked to a company or sector of activity.

“Although welcome, the positive steps included in the bill are still too timid to truly put an end to the problem of greenwashing. We encourage the government to seize this opportunity to take effective action on the climate crisis, by correcting its aim between now and the bill’s adoption,” asserts Me Julien Beaulieu, a researcher with the CQDE.