The federal government's procurement department, Public
Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), recently announced an
important change to the provisions of its Supply Manual
that relate to integrity. From now on, all companies that have been
convicted of conspiracy, bid-rigging or any other anti-competitive
activity will be precluded from bidding on PWGSC procurement
contracts or entering into real property transactions with the
In the past, PWGSC's policy contained an exception for
companies that had been part of a leniency program, including the
Competition Bureau's. You will recall that such a program
allows a company accused of one or more criminal cartel offences to
receive a more lenient sentence if it agrees to cooperate with the
Bureau's investigation voluntarily and pleads guilty to the
As a result of the PWGSC announcement, the exception that was
available to participants in a leniency program has been abolished.
The new integrity provisions are also retroactive, as they apply to
companies that pleaded guilty to criminal offences before the
leniency exception was abolished.
There are now only three cases where a company convicted of an
offence listed in the PWGSC integrity policy provisions can be
exempted from exclusion:
Where the company has been granted a pardon;
Where the company's capacities have been restored by the
Where it is necessary to the public interest for the PWGSC to
award a contract to, or to enter into a real property agreement
with, the company.
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The HR Guidelines focus attention on an area that is not typically regarded as an antitrust "hot spot" but has been the subject of several high-profile proceedings in recent years in the United States.
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