Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is calling for the federal government to block Royal Bank of Canada’s $13.5-billion takeover of HSBC Canada as a way to help with housing affordability.
Poilievre said in a statement Friday that Canada’s banking sector is already overly concentrated and the loss of HSBC Canadian division will only make it worse.
“If the biggest banks in Canada simply buy up growing players, there’s no hope for there ever being more competition in Canadian banking.”
He pointed to the Competition Bureau’s finding that the bank was a rate disrupter on mortgages, the loss of which could leave Canadians paying higher rates.
“If you have a smaller competitor pulling down rates, then we should want them to remain in place.”
RBC spokesman Andrew McGrath said in a statement that the takeover is in the best interest of HSBC Canada’s 700,000 clients, and that the Competition Bureau’s review did not identify Competition Act concerns with the deal.
“We strongly believe that RBC’s proposed acquisition offers HSBC’s Canadian clients the best possibility for continuity and stability,” he said.
In its review, the federal regulator said the takeover wouldn’t likely result in a substantial lessening of competition.
It did however say the deal would mean a loss of rivalry between the two banks and that Canada’s banking sector remains concentrated with high barriers to entry.
The deal must still be approved by Freeland, whose decision will be informed by the regulatory review processes, said Katherine Cuplinskas, a spokeswoman for the minister.
A coalition of environmental groups including Stand.Earth, LeadNow and Decolonial Solidarity, who have been pushing against the deal largely because RBC’s climate policies clash with HSBC’s more progressive stance, welcomed Poilievre’s comments as a rare point of agreement.
Richard Brooks, climate finance director of Stand.earth, called on Freeland to listen to those opposed to the deal.
“Minister Freeland needs to just do the right thing for our climate, for Indigenous rights, and for bank workers and customers and reject this mega deal.”