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Competition commissioner Melanie Aitken

Chris Bolin Photography Inc./The Globe and Mail

Canada's competition commissioner Melanie Aitken is leaving her post two years ahead of schedule, citing a desire to spend more time with her family and take on new professional challenges.

She spoke with The Globe and Mail's Steve Ladurantaye about the decision, and what comes next.

So, what's going on here?

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As I'm sure you can appreciate, it's with mixed emotions that I made the decision that after this privileged and amazing opportunity at the bureau over seven years it's time for me to step down. We've accomplished an awful lot of what we set out to do. So it's time professionally and personally to take on some new challenges. Perhaps this time a little closer to home.

Do you have anything else lined up?

Truly, I am completely focused on my work here until my last day in the office on Sept. 21 and that's the time when I will turn to consider other things. I'm sure it will be something that draws on my legal background as I've always enjoyed that dimension of the work.

So you just are packing up and going with two years left on your mandate?

I did identify clear goals at the outset to reinvigorate the enforcement here. I think that has really taken hold and taken root in the way we do business. I think we are better recognized by Canadians for the work that we do and our absolute commitment to fight for competition. There just always comes a time when it feels like on a combination of personal and professional grounds that it's time to take on new challenges.

It just seems a little strange to leave a high-profile job and not have something lined up. Did something happen?

Well, the rules of ethics for order-in-council appointments prevent me from trying to set anything up. Truth is, I have a legal background and that's the most likely direction I'll take it. But my calculus has nothing to do with the next position and honestly it will be pretty hard to beat the privilege I've had to work in this job.

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That's what I don't understand. Were you bored?

Oh my goodness. No. I was drawn to Ottawa for the job seven years ago. The honour of serving as commissioner is a most amazing thing but having accomplished largely what I set out to do and implemented my ideas and my vision I think I've contributed my piece and time for me to return home to take on new challenges.

This was your decision?

Yes.

You weren't fired?

No. I've been very fortunate to have amazing support by this government and I think what we've been doing has been very consistent with the things they care about. Those things are bringing information to consumers, introducing competition and bringing information to consumers.

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So you just wake up one day and decide you've had enough?

I certainly agonized over the decision, I can assure you of that. This is not in a fit of pique over anything.

So if you look back over the last few years, where do you think you got things right?

We had this opportunity with the amendments, but that came with a huge responsibility to get it right and I think that by renewing the enforcement will at the bureau we did that well. I also get a huge charge out of doing something that matters to Canadians, and to that extent we've had some success .

You've said before you missed the courtroom. Is that where you'll end up?

It's interesting. I've discovered you can get a lot of those same rushes just as effectively in the boardroom. I was a litigator before and that's part of who I am, but an awful lot of other things can be just as rewarding.

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