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Canada's Competition Commissioner is through negotiating with real estate agents, saying the only way the industry will change its allegedly anti-competitive behaviour is if it is forced to by the regulator. In a 15-page filing to the Competition Tribunal, commissioner Melanie Aitken argues that the Canadian Real Estate Association can't be relied upon to voluntarily open itself to competition.

"Unless CREA and its members are restrained by an order of the ... Tribunal, they will continue to have the incentive, the opportunity and the ability to enact and enforce restrictions that prevent or will likely prevent competition substantially," the filing alleges.

The 98,000-member CREA argues that agents already set their own commission rates, and that new rules will allow consumers to post their homes on its online Multiple Listing Service. The new rules aren't enough, Ms. Aitken's filing reiterated, because there's nothing to stop the CREA from changing its guidelines again.

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Neither Ms. Aitken nor CREA would comment on the filing, because the case appears destined for the tribunal. Both sides have said they would prefer a negotiated settlement.

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