Former global managing director of McKinsey & Company Dominic Barton testified before a House of Commons committee on Wednesday that he had no involvement in the federal government’s choice to award contracts to McKinsey.
After Radio-report Canada’s that the Liberal government awarded the consulting firm $66 million in business (a figure that climbs to $100 million when new contracts, signed in recent months, are factored in), the Commons committee on government operations agreed to investigate the contracts.
McKinsey received $2.2 million in federal contracts during the time the Conservative administration of former prime minister Stephen Harper was in power. Barton, when questioned by lawmakers, denied any participation with McKinsey contracts over the past few decades.
Since relocating to Asia in 1996, he testified before the committee, “I had no involvement whatsoever in any awarding of paid work to McKinsey by the federal government.” Concerns over Barton’s potential impact on federal policy have cast a spotlight on the Liberal government’s ties to the firm.
Barton led a council on economic growth for then-finance minister Bill Morneau, and he eventually became Canada’s ambassador to China.
After a six-week break, Parliament resumed earlier this week, and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has been attacking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals with the McKinsey contracts.
This past Wednesday, Poilievre addressed the media and compared the effects of the contracts to the rising cost of living in Canada. “The pain isn’t shared equally. The expensive consultants are becoming rich “…he made the following remark.
Barton was grilled by Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie on his friendship with Trudeau. If the Prime Minister asked you, “Would you say that you are friends with the Prime Minister?” Asked Kussie.
“Absolutely not; I’m not a friend at all. I know him in the business world “As an answer, Barton remarked. I can’t call him because I don’t have his personal number and we’ve never been alone.
Barton said in his opening statement before the committee that he had served as an adviser to the previous Conservative government. Anthony Housefather, a Liberal MP, continued Kusie’s line of questioning about the relationship between Barton and Trudeau in an effort to put an end to the issue.
Housefather inquired as to whether or not Trudeau was one of his “50 greatest friends,” whether or not they celebrated each other’s birthdays, and whether or not they shared similar workout routines.
With no exception, Barton said “no” to Housefather’s probing queries. During the whole two-hour, heated encounter, he repeated that he had never seen Trudeau before and had no ties to him. Also, Barton said he first encountered Trudeau in an elevator on route to a meeting with Jim Flaherty, the former Conservative finance minister.
New Democrats argue that the scope of the investigation should be broadened to include additional businesses. Members of Parliament (MPs) kept on grilling Barton about McKinsey’s increased involvement in the government in recent years.
NDP lawmaker Gord Johns, who introduced a resolution to broaden the study’s focus to include additional consulting businesses, implied that huge corporations benefit from personal relationships to government officials in order to secure contracts.
“What is McKinsey up to, exactly? McKinsey has connections with who?” Johns inquired, implying both the Liberal and Conservative regimes were equally guilty of favoring the private over the public sector.
Barton emphasized that the government’s buying procedures are thorough and overseen by professionals rather than politicians.
Johns said he wanted additional firms like Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Accenture, KPMG, and Ernst & Young to be a part of the study to get a more complete picture of public service outsourcing.
Johns remarked that the committee must “look at the full magnitude of this thing” and “require answers” before calling on any of the corporations involved. They must disclose their methods for securing such lucrative contracts.
The researcher who testified before the committee on Monday termed the scrutiny of McKinsey a diversion. Professor of public management at Carleton University Amanda Clarke suggested examining the government’s total use of consultancy firms.
Clarke said that the government’s recent emphasis on outsourcing and contracting provides a “wide enough cover” within which to address these concerns at any individual company. It was decided that the committee would hold a vote on Johns’ motion the following week.