Skip to main content

Upscale coat maker Moose Knuckles has been accused of misleading consumers with its ‘made-in-Canada’ claims.

Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and

How Canadian is the Made in Canada claim of premium coat maker Moose Knuckles?

Not Canadian enough, the Competition Bureau says.

In the first case of its kind, the bureau on Wednesday said Montreal-based coat maker Moose International Inc. (known as Moose Knuckles) uses "false or misleading" Made in Canada claims and should stop doing it.

Story continues below advertisement

The bureau is seeking a $4-million penalty from the company and "restitution for consumers." According to bureau guidelines for Made in Canada, at least 51 per cent of the "direct" costs of producing or manufacturing goods must be incurred in Canada, and the bureau said most of the company's parkas are made in Asia.

Moose Knuckles "vigorously rejects the allegations" made by the bureau, president Ayal Twik said in an e-mail. "Moose Knuckles core products are made in Canada and always have been."

The case underlines the importance that companies place on Canadiana and wrapping themselves in the Canadian flag as a way to gain a customer following and charge a premium price.

Rival Canada Goose led the way in the upscale coat category in flagging its product as Made in Canada and worthy of its high prices. Now Moose Knuckles' claim is being put to the test.

"In this industry, branding, brand value and brand reputation is very important," Chris Hersh, a partner at law firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP who specializes in competition law, said in an interview.

Moose Knuckles identifies itself as a Canadian company with a Canadian product, he said. "To the extent that this case challenges their Canadian-ness, that could potentially have a negative impact on their brand reputation and the willingness of some consumers to pay a premium, based on a Made In Canada claim."

Susan McGibbon, president of consultancy the Retail Lab, said it's risky for a company to try to take advantage of Canada's global reputation for being dependable and trustworthy if the company can't fully back up its claim. "Being uniquely Canadian and Made in Canada mean something on the global stage" with both economic and emotional value tied to it, she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Still, other Canadian companies such as Tim Hortons benefit from focusing on their domestic roots without claiming their products are Made In Canada, said Andrew Resnick of Novo Consulting. Clothier Roots, for example, waves the Canadian flag even though many of its goods are produced overseas, Mr. Resnick said. He noted that while Tim Hortons plays heavily on its Canadian heritage, its controlling shareholder is now a Brazilian private equity firm.

The bureau, in filing an application with the Competition Tribunal, alleged that the Moose Knuckles parkas, which cost from $595 to more than $1,000, are mostly manufactured in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia. The bureau accused the company of only doing the finishing touches to the jackets, such as adding the trim, zippers and snaps, in Canada.

"Consumers are willing to pay a premium for Made in Canada products and manufacturers know this," said Matthew Boswell, senior deputy commissioner of competition at the bureau. "The bureau has taken action in order to ensure that consumers – and retailers – have the correct information to allow them to make informed purchases."

Moose Knuckles countered that government officials are "using costly litigation against a small and proud Canadian company to test their vague guidelines." It said in a statement that it had on several occasions "pro-actively" contacted the bureau for clarification on its guidelines to ensure compliance. The company said it meets all requirements "to proudly and legally bring its Made in Canada products to the world."

It said it has more than 400 Canadians employed in three domestic garment factories as well as in other production for its core coat collection. "Like virtually every other garment made in Canada, textiles and components from abroad are used in the Canadian manufacture of Moose Knuckles parkas," it said.

In a category dominated by Canada Goose, Moose Knuckles sells jackets with hood trims made from blue and silver fox fur from Finland, gaining a following among well-heeled consumers in North America, Europe and Asia. Its name conjures a Canadian strain of good humour but has a double entendre, with the word also connoting the bifurcation of an area of the male anatomy.

Story continues below advertisement

The Competition Bureau says the "Made In Canada" claim must be accompanied by a qualifying statement when appropriate, such as "made in Canada with imported parts" or "made in Canada with domestic and imported parts." This could include more specific information such as "made in Canada with 60 per cent Canadian content and 40 per cent imported content," the bureau rules says.

As well, the "last substantial transformation of the good" has to occur in Canada, it says.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter