Canada names interim boss Pecman to head competition watchdog

Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:23pm EDT
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TORONTO, June 12 (Reuters) - Canada's competition watchdog got a new chief on Wednesday, with the government choosing an internal candidate who has signaled a tougher stance on forcing companies to hand over information when they are being investigated for abuses.

John Pecman was named Commissioner of Competition for a five-year term, nearly a year after he stepped into the role as interim head of the country's Competition Bureau.

The bureau is an independent law enforcement agency tasked with ensuring fair competition in the marketplace.

Just last week, the bureau charged Nestle SA and Mars Inc with fixing chocolate prices. It also won a dispute recently with Royal Bank of Scotland, forcing the bank to hand over key documents in a global rate-rigging scandal, and it cleared a major telecoms deal: BCE Inc's acquisition of Astral Media .

Subrata Bhattacharjee, co-chair of the national trade and competition group at the Heenan Blaikie law firm in Toronto, said Pecman is a strong appointment.

"Given his background, long history within the bureau, and some of the things he did as an acting commissioner, I would expect that he will continue to pursue vigorous enforcement, particularly in criminal cases, but also inject a more of a policy-driven approach than we have seen in recent years," Bhattacharjee said.

Pecman has worked nearly 30 years at the bureau, spending time in every enforcement branch. He is an economist with a masters degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.