On September 11, the Competition Bureau announced that it had laid criminal charges
against Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. and its subsidiary, BFI
Canada Inc., alleging that Progressive had violated the terms of a
consent agreement it had entered into in 2010.
The consent agreement was reached in respect of a merger between
IESC-BFC Ltd. and Waste Services Inc. (now known together as
Progressive), two commercial waste collection companies. The Bureau
concluded at the time that the merger would result in a substantial
lessening or prevention of competition in the waste collection
market in several Canadian cities, and entered into a consent
agreement with the merging parties which required them to divest
certain assets in the affected markets. The consent agreement also
provided that the parties could not attempt to reacquire the
customers of the companies who purchased the divested assets for
one year following the divestitures. In October and December of
2010, the Bureau approved divestiture buyers. Now, the Bureau
alleges that Progressive violated the terms of the agreement by
soliciting and reacquiring a customer whose contract had been
divested, and then providing a false declaration of compliance and
failing promptly to notify the Bureau of the breach.
Contravention of a consent agreement is a criminal offence under
section 66 of the Competition Act. If the Bureau's
allegations are borne out in court, Progressive could be liable on
summary conviction to a fine of up to $25,000. The charges show the
Bureau's aggressive approach to monitoring and enforcing its
consent agreements. In the misleading advertising context, in 2011,
the Bureau required Beiersdorf Canada Inc. to take action
to correct a public statement which the Bureau found to be
inconsistent with the terms of a consent agreement entered into
with Beiersdorf earlier that year. This week's charges show
that the Bureau will continue to monitor compliance with consent
agreements across all of its enforcement branches, and may pursue
criminal charges when circumstances warrant.
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