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Sheridan Scott exits as Competition Bureau head by Paul Vieira

Dec 19, 2008

Source: National Post

OTTAWA -- Sheridan Scott, the head of the Competition Bureau who ran into trouble with the Conservative government this year over its alleged behaviour in reviewing a brewery deal, is leaving her post and joining the law firm of Bennett Jones, she told the watchdog's staff Friday in a memo.

Her term was set to expire at the end of the month, and sources in Ottawa indicated the Prime Minister's Office opted not to appoint her for another term.

She becomes the latest high-profile head of a federal agency to depart following a run-in with the Harper government. Others who were replaced include Linda Keen, former head of the nuclear safety regulator, and Adrian Measner, formerly president of the wheat board.

It is understood that Melanie Aitken, senior deputy commissioner, will be appointed the acting bureau head while the government conducts a search for Ms. Scott's replacement.

In a note to staff, she said she was joining Bennett Jones to "open a brand new chapter" in her life.

"This will provide me with the opportunity to continue to pursue my interests in competition law, particularly on the international stage, but also to spend time on issues involving communications law, my other great passion," she told bureau staff.

In joining Bennett Jones, she will work along side David Dodge, the former Bank of Canada governor, and Eddie Goldenberg, senior advisor to former prime minister Jean Chrétien. Ms. Scott is married to David Zussman, who led Mr. Chrétien's transition team when the Liberals gained power in 1993. Sources added her ties to the Liberal Party did not win her fans in the Conservative PMO.

Early this year, she earned a rebuke from then-federal industry minister, Jim Prentice, after a Federal Court judge alleged the bureau breached its duty by providing "misleading, inaccurate and incomplete" disclosure to secure a court order during its review of Labatt Brewing Co. Ltd.'s takeover of Lakeport Brewing Income Fund. He said he was upset that he was not told beforehand of the judge's finding before it was publicly released.

However, months later, an independent review concluded the bureau did not abuse its power.

"She leaves behind a mixed legacy -- one in which she excelled in terms of policy and international profile," said Brian Facey, head of the competition practice at Blake Cassels & Graydon.

-- with files from Jim Middlemiss and Theresa Tedesco

© National Post