Poilievre calls for parliamentary probe of Liberals' relationship with McKinsey consulting firm

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says he wants a Commons committee to investigate the Liberal government's relationship with consulting firm McKinsey & Company. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says he wants a Commons committee to investigate the Liberal government's relationship with consulting firm McKinsey & Company. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Tuesday he wants a Commons committee to probe the Liberal government's relationship with McKinsey & Company after a report revealed that the value of federal contracts held by the consulting firm has increased dramatically since 2015.

Radio-Canada reported recently that the cost of McKinsey's federal contracts has increased 30-fold under the current Liberal government.

"It's time for Canadians to get answers," Poilievre said. "We need to know what this money was for, what influence McKinsey has had in our government, and it is time for Canadian taxpayers to have answers to these questions."

According to public accounts data from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), McKinsey was awarded $2.2 million in federal contracts during the Harper years. Over Trudeau's seven years in office, the company has received $66 million from the federal government.

McKinsey, an American firm with 30,000 consultants in 130 offices in 65 countries, provides advice to both private and public entities — which sometimes have conflicting interests — and does not disclose its business ties.

McKinsey has advised many national governments on their COVID-19 pandemic response in recent years, including those in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Mexico.

Radio-Canada's analysis showed that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) account for 44 per cent of federal contracts issued to the consultancy since 2015.

IRCC alone has given McKinsey $24.5 million in contracts for management advice since 2015.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada also hired the firm for management advice, science and research services, while the Department of National Defence paid McKinsey several million dollars for leadership development.

Since the start of 2021, PSPC has called upon McKinsey on behalf of various federal entities for contracts worth more than $45 million. All of those contracts were sole-source, according to documents obtained by Radio-Canada.

Amount paid to consulting firm McKinsey by the Trudeau government

Poilievre said that he is not calling for a full public inquiry. He said a Conservative MP will propose a motion before a parliamentary committee calling for a probe into the firm's relationship with the Liberal government.

"We want to know what all this money was for," Poilievre said. "We also want to know about the outsized influence of this company in the operation of our government, our democracy."

The Conservative leader said his MPs will be requesting copies of all contracts the Liberal government has with McKinsey as well as all text messages, emails and other communications between officials regarding the firm's work.

In a statement issued Tuesday, McKinsey said its work for the federal government has been nonpartisan and focuses on managerial and operational issues.

"Our firm does not make policy recommendations," the statement said, adding that the company has followed federal procurement rules.

"We are proud of the work we do on behalf of the Government of Canada and the programs which we have strengthened through our independent analyses and advice," the statement said.

The statement said the company would appear before a committee if asked to do so.

Blanchet says opposition must scrutinize Liberal government 

Poilievre said a future Conservative government led by him would get better value for money by relying less on consultants and more on the public service.

The federal government said it employs consulting firms to provide high-quality services and ensure the best possible value for taxpayers. It said departments are required to award contracts in a fair, open and transparent manner.

The governments of Quebec and Ontario also hired McKinsey to advise them on their pandemic responses and plan for the economic recovery.

Watch: 'We need to know what this money was for': Poilievre calls for probe of McKinsey contracts:

An investigation by the French Senate accused consulting firms like McKinsey of undermining national sovereignty and making the state dependent on them.

McKinsey also has been under investigation in France over tax filings, the awarding of contracts and its role in President Emmanuel Macron's 2017 and 2022 election campaigns.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet stopped short of accusing the Liberal government of wrongdoing. He said that while he may have his suspicions, his job is to find out what's going on.

"Our job is to make sure that we know as much as possible and for each and every detail that we will not know. The population of Quebec and Canada will have to ask questions themselves," he said.

Blanchet would not weigh in on the Quebec provincial government's use of McKinsey, saying his job is to focus on holding the federal Liberals to account.

"This government cannot be left alone. It has to be under scrutiny all the time because they have some bad really habits," he said.

The NDP also supports a parliamentary review of the contracts.

NDP ethics critic Matthew Green issued a statement Tuesday noting the Conservatives also awarded McKinsey $2.2 million in contracts when they were in power. He said Canadians are "disgusted" by the enormous contracts awarded under the Liberals.

"Canada has a strong public service who can do this work at a fraction of the cost, so there's no reason for Trudeau to choose to hand buckets of money to his billionaire CEO friends instead," Green said.

"This is part of a sustained campaign to undermine our public service workers. The Liberals should be ashamed of themselves."