Conservative MPs have written to Canada’s auditor-general to ask her to investigate the government’s issuance of contracts to consulting firm McKinsey & Company which the Tories say has close ties to the Liberal Party.
The MPs were reacting to a Jan. 18 Globe and Mail report which said the previous Conservative government under Stephen Harper did very little business with McKinsey, but after the Liberals took power in 2015 the firm increasingly received multi-million dollar contracts.
The NDP and the Bloc Québécois voiced their support of the Conservative initiative, according to the Globe report.
In their Jan. 18 letter to Auditor-General Karen Hogan, Conservative MPs John Brassard and Pierre Paul-Hus cited figures in the Globe analysis that said since the Trudeau government took power, contracts with McKinsey “went from 0 in the last two years of the previous government to $33.6 million in the last six years.”
The letter points to “several close ties between McKinsey and the Trudeau government,” including former McKinsey chair Dominic Barton who “simultaneously served as the company chair and an advisor to the Trudeau government during the period when the government started contracting with McKinsey again.”
Trudeau also named Barton ambassador to China in 2019, a post he left last month to return to the private sector, joining mining giant Rio Tinto as chairman of the board.
Brassard and Paul-Hus note that some of the contracts awarded to McKinsey were sole source procurements, meaning other contractors were not able to bid on them.
The two MPs want the auditor-general to determine if there are mechanisms in place to prevent the funnelling of public funds to firms friendly to the government and to determine if taxpayers are getting their money’s worth with the “sky-rocketing spending on contractor work.”
The letter also notes that spending on contractors increased 41.8 percent under the current government, running counter to a 2015 campaign promise Trudeau made to reduce the use of external consultants.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the issue in a Jan. 19 press conference when asked if he supports the opposition’s request for an audit.
“The Auditor-General does extraordinarily important work in Canada in reviewing and advising governments on how to do even better by serving Canadians. I welcome all the work that she will do in many, many areas to help us continue to serve Canadians as best we possibly can,” he said.
In February 2020, McKinsey was awarded a $4.9 million contract to fix the public service’s Phoenix pay system, which has since been amended three times to bring the value to an estimated $27.7 million, according to the Globe report.
McKinsey has been involved in several controversies in its global contracts, most recently including coming under the fire of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio who accused the firm of a conflict of interest in their advising of Chinese governmental entities while also advising sensitive U.S. departments.
The firm, which advises governments worldwide, also settled for nearly $600 million last year for its role in the opioid crisis in the U.S., after being accused of playing a role in the issue through its advice to pharmaceutical companies profiting from the crisis.