OTTAWA – The Competition Bureau is seeking a $4-million penalty against high-end clothing maker Moose Knuckles, which it accuses of misleading marketing over claims that its parkas are made in Canada.
In an application to the Competition Tribunal, the regulator alleges the winter coats marketed as made-in-Canada and which typically retail from $595 to more than $1,000 are mostly made in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia.
The bureau alleges that only the finishing touches to the jackets, such as adding the trim, zippers and snaps, are done in Canada.
Moose Knuckles president Ayal Twik said in an emailed response that the Montreal-based company “vigorously rejects the allegations.”
“Moose Knuckle’s core products are made in Canada and always have been,” Twik said.
In a statement accompanying Twik’s email, the company said, “Moose Knuckles finds it most unfortunate that government officers are using costly litigation against a small and proud Canadian company to test their vague guidelines.”
The Competition Bureau declined an interview request, but said in a statement Wednesday it is seeking an end to what it believes to be a false or misleading claim.
Besides the $4-million administrative penalty, the bureau is also seeking restitution for consumers.
“Consumers are willing to pay a premium for ‘Made in Canada’ products, and manufacturers know this,” said Matthew Boswell, senior deputy commissioner of competition.
“The bureau has taken action in order to ensure that consumers — and retailers — have the correct information to allow them to make informed purchases.”
Under bureau guidelines, at least 51 per cent of total direct costs of producing or manufacturing should incur in Canada for products claiming to be “Made in Canada.”
They should also be accompanied by a qualifying statement such as “Made in Canada with imported parts” or even more specific information such as “Made in Canada with 60 per cent Canadian content and 40 per cent imported content.”
The Moose Knuckles brand recently received a publicity boost after Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, wore one of its red and black plaid jackets while stepping off a government plane last November in London.
The statement from Moose Knuckles said its Canadian factories employ more than 100 skilled craftspeople, most of whom have decades of experience in Canada as sewing machine operators, cutters and production managers.
The company said that overall, more than 400 workers are employed at three Canadian garment factories as well as in the design, production and distribution of its core coat collection, including producing premium materials with partners in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and elsewhere in Canada.
“As a result of its Canadian manufacturing process, Moose Knuckles injects millions of dollars annually into the Canadian economy, while preserving a long tradition of Canadian manufacturing and craftsmanship,” it said.
“Like virtually every other garment made in Canada, textiles and components from abroad are used in the Canadian manufacture of Moose Knuckles parkas,” it added, but it did not specifically address whether the parkas met the Competition Bureau’s 51 per cent Canadian content rule.