Seven senior cabinet ministers will be called before a parliamentary committee to explain why their departments have awarded more than $100 million in consulting contracts to McKinsey & Company since the Trudeau government came to power in 2015.
The news comes next Radio Canada revealed that the Liberal government awarded $66 million worth of business to the company – a number that goes up to $100 million when new contracts signed in recent months are included in the total.
McKinsey, an American firm with 30,000 consultants in 130 offices in 65 countries, provides advice to both private and public entities. In the nine years of the Harper administration, McKinsey was awarded $2.2 million in federal contracts.
Members of Parliament from the House of Commons Government Operations and Estimates Committee said they also want to hear testimony from Canada’s top McKinsey executive and from McKinsey’s former global director Dominic Barton.
Barton, who had worked for the company for 30 years, left in 2018 and was named Canada’s ambassador to China in 2019. Barton held the position for two years before leaving to join mining company Rio Tinto.
On Wednesday, the committee met and passed a motion listing the ministers called to testify:
- Chairman of the Treasury Board Mona Fortier
- Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Helena Jaczek
- Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland
- Defense Minister Anita Anand
- Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser
- Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos
- Minister of Public Security Marco Mendicino
Each of the ministers is expected to give an opening statement and answer three rounds of questions. Each minister’s appearance is expected to last just over an hour.
Committee members have until Tuesday, January 24 to submit lists of additional witnesses. The commission will begin hearing witnesses in the week of January 30 to February 3.
A request for documents
Members of Parliament on the committee also voted to ask any government department, agency or crown company that hired McKinsey to provide the committee with detailed documents dating back to 2011.
The Conservatives on the committee initially asked for the investigation to go back to 2015. The committee instead passed a Liberal amendment to extend the timeline to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s last term in office.
Documents sought include RFPs, bids and proposals, contracts, emails, text messages and other communications between McKinsey and government officials.
The committee agreed to ask for the value of those contracts and details of work done, including all invoices and records of payments to the company.
The committee also requested a full global list of all McKinsey clients and the names of all McKinsey project managers who have worked with the Canadian government since 2011.
MPs also agreed to ask the Office of the Auditor General to look into the value received by government departments, agencies and Crown Corporations through McKinsey’s work. The federal government has three to five weeks to produce those documents.
McKinsey worked for Ontario, Quebec
After Radio-Canada published the results of its investigation earlier this month, Conservative leader Pierre Poilièvre called on parliament to investigate the matter.
“It’s time for Canadians to get answers,” Poilièvre said. “We need to know what this money was for, what influence McKinsey has had in our government, and it’s about time Canadian taxpayers got answers to these questions.”
While attending the Summit of North American Leaders in Mexico City last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the contracts were part of the government’s effort to modernize and improve public services.
“I have asked Minister Jaczek and Minister Fortier to follow up and look closely at the numbers, and the circumstances we have heard about in the news,” Trudeau said in French.
“We will follow up to make sure it was done the right way and to see if we need to adjust or change the rules.”
McKinsey played a role in the modernization of the Royal Canadian Navy, the promotion of cultural diversity in the Department of National Defense, and a sexual misconduct complaint management system in the military.
In recent years, McKinsey has advised many national governments on their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including those in the US, UK, Germany and Mexico.
The governments of Quebec and Ontario also hired McKinsey to advise them on their pandemic responses and help them plan economic recovery.
An investigation by the French Senate accused consulting firms like McKinsey of undermining national sovereignty and making the state dependent on them.
McKinsey is also under investigation in France for tax filing, contract award and his role in President Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 and 2022 election campaigns.