A House of Commons committee will meet Wednesday to decide whether to probe a spike in awards to the consulting firm McKinsey under the Liberal government.
The debate will come on the heels of the federal government confirming Tuesday the total value of 23 contracts given out to the consulting firm since 2015 — $101.4 million, according to a statement from Public Services and Procurement Canada.
McKinsey’s contracts with the federal government have come under scrutiny following recent media reports that the deals have increased under the Liberals from when the federal Conservatives were in power. Radio-Canada reported the Conservatives awarded $2.2 million in contracts to McKinsey over the nine years that party was in power.
Read more: Feds vow to work with any committee probe into McKinsey contract reports
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has called for the House of Commons government operations and estimates committee to launch a study into how federal contracts have been awarded to the firm.
“We want to know what all this money was for,” Poilievre said, speaking at a press conference last Tuesday, Jan. 10.
Members of the committee will debate a motion brought by Conservative members asking for a probe into these contracts.
In order to do so, the Conservative motion requesting the study will have to pass a vote. With five Liberals and five opposition members sitting on the committee, the Tories can only win that vote if they have the support of all opposition MPs — and the Conservative chair.
Poilievre said the motion will also seek documents about the McKinsey contracts.
“That includes contracts, conversations, records of work done, meetings held, text messages, email exchanges, everything that the government has with the company since taking office should be made public so that we can study all of these facts and hold the government accountable,” he said, speaking last week.
Should the probe go ahead, the Conservative leader said he hopes for answers about the potential influence of the firm — and about Trudeau’s decision to appoint former McKinsey director Dominic Barton as his ambassador to China for just over two years, ending in 2021.
According to the statement from Public Services and Procurement Canada, three of the contracts — worth a total of $55.8 million — awarded to McKinsey were granted as a result of a competitive process.
The other 20 contracts, worth more than $45 million, were sole-sourced. That means there was no competition for the award.
Of those, the department said 18 were conducted through “call ups,” a process that allows government to quickly procure a good or service when they have a standing offer in place with the company. The other two were sole-sourced — one being a low-dollar value contract, and the other was worth zero dollars.
“PSPC established a National Master Standing Offer with McKinsey & Company to support federal departments and agencies that require benchmarking services,” a spokesperson from Public Services and Procurement Canada said in a statement.
“These services consist of functional tools, databases, and expert support to measure their performance against similar Canadian and international organizations in order to identify deficiencies and opportunities for improvement. Such services may be used to support complex programs, including digital modernization and other large transformation initiatives.”
McKinsey, they said, “holds exclusive rights to provide this type of benchmarking” and there are “no authorized resellers.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek and Treasury Board President Mona Fortier have been tasked with looking into the contracts.
“We will do a follow-up to ensure it was done the right way and to see if we need to modify or change the rules,” Trudeau said, speaking in French last Wednesday.
In a statement sent to Global News last week, Jaczek’s office pledged to “work with” any committee that opts to dive into the issue.
The minister, they said, is “taking these concerns seriously.”
“We continue to maintain the highest standards of openness, transparency, and fiscal responsibility.”