On Dec. 20, 2018, the Competition Bureau and Defence Construction Canada (DCC) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance cooperation and coordination between the two agencies in order to improve the fairness, openness, and transparency of DCC's procurement processes. The MOU is connected to the Bureau's revised Immunity and Leniency Programs released in the fall (a more detailed description of the Programs is available here). The agreement is designed to identify and implement corrective measures to address bid rigging and criminal cartel activities in DCC procurement processes.

The MOU sets out three areas of collaboration and coordination between the Bureau and DCC: (1) detecting and addressing potential cartel activity; (2) sharing resources and information; and (3) engaging in joint education and outreach activities.

Where one party becomes aware of cartel activity in relation to a DCC procurement process it will inform the other party of its concerns. The parties will then share supporting evidence, advice or other information related to the individuals or business conducting business with DCC. Where DCC becomes aware of cartel activity, DCC may nonetheless continue its procurement process to meet its operational requirements subject to any corrective measures that DCC deems appropriate.

The MOU is the first agreement entered into by the Bureau related to its new Immunity and Leniency Programs and suggests that the Bureau is looking to apply its Programs across multiple industries. The MOU reflects increased vigilance by the Government of Canada and its agencies with respect to cartel activity. The agreement highlights the importance of strict compliance with the bid rigging provisions of the Competition Act and government procurement documents, particularly where joint ventures are involved.