Dominic Barton insists he’s had no involvement in McKinsey’s government contracts
Dominic Barton, a former global chief executive of McKinsey & Company, told a House of Commons committee on Wednesday that he had played no role in the federal government’s decisions to award contracts to the consultancy.
The Commons Committee on Government Deals agreed to review the contracts awarded to the consultancy after Radio-Canada announced that the Liberal government had awarded the company $66 million in deals – a number that has risen to $100 million. Dollar rises if new contracts were signed in the last few months included in the total.
For comparison, the Conservative government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper awarded McKinsey $2.2 million in federal contracts during his tenure.
Questioned by MPs, Barton insisted he was not involved in any contracts granted to McKinsey in recent decades.
“Since I moved to Asia in 1996, I have had no involvement in the federal government’s awarding of paid work to McKinsey,” he told the committee.
The Liberal government’s relationship with Barton has come under scrutiny over questions about the extent of the firm’s influence on federal politics.
Barton chaired former Treasury Secretary Bill Morneau’s economic growth advisory board and later served as Canada’s ambassador to China.
CLOCK | PM says former McKinsey director ‘served his country in many ways’
PM says former McKinsey director “has certainly served his country in many ways.” DESCRIPTION: During Question Time, opposition leader Pierre Poilievre quizzed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about former McKinsey director Dominic Barton, who is due to appear before a Commons committee today.
Since Parliament returned earlier this week after a six-week hiatus, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has used the McKinsey Accords as a line of attack against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Poilievre contrasted the contracts with the impact of the rising cost of living on Canadians.
“Not everyone is suffering. The high-price consultants are running away like bandits,” he said.
Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie questioned Barton about his relationship with Trudeau.
“Would you consider yourself a friend of the Prime Minister?” asked kissie.
“No, I’m not a friend. I have a professional relationship [with him],” Barton said in response. “I don’t have his personal phone number and I wasn’t alone in a room with him.”
CLOCK | Barton takes questions from the Conservative MP
The former head of McKinsey & Company appears before the Commons committee investigating federal consulting contracts.
In his opening address to the committee, Barton noted that he had served as an adviser to the previous Conservative government.
To wrap up the debate, Liberal MP Anthony Housefad followed Kusie’s lead by asking more about Barton and Trudeau’s relationship. Housefather asked if Trudeau was one of his “50 best friends,” if they’d exchanged birthday presents, and if they’d ever trained together.
Barton answered “no” to all of Housefather’s questions. He insisted during the heated, two-hour meeting that he had no personal relationship with Trudeau. Barton also claimed the first time he met Trudeau was when he was in an elevator on his way to meet with former Conservative Treasury Secretary Jim Flaherty.
CLOCK | Liberal MP asks Barton about his relationship with Trudeau
MPs question former McKinsey & Company chief about nature of relationship with Trudeau Former McKinsey & Company chief Dominic Barton was asked by Liberal MP Anthony Housefather during his appearance before a Commons committee investigating federal consulting contracts about the extent of his friendship with questioned the Prime Minister. According to the NDP, the investigation should be extended to other companies
MPs continued to press Barton as to why McKinsey has become so involved in government in recent years.
NDP MP Gord Johns – who tabled a motion to expand the scope of the study to include other consultancies – suggested that large companies have insight into government contracts through personal connections.
“What does McKinsey do? Who does McKinsey know?” Johns asked, accusing both Liberal and Conservative governments of prioritizing the private sector over the public sector.
Barton insisted that the government’s procurement processes are rigorous and run by civil servants, not politicians.
NDP MP Gord Johns is asking the government operations committee to expand its investigation into federal consulting contracts to include firms other than McKinsey & Company. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Johns said he would like the study to include other consulting firms – such as Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Accenture, KPMG and Ernst & Young – to get a broader understanding of public service outsourcing.
“We need to look at the full scope of this and we need answers and we need all of these companies before this committee,” Johns said. “They have to explain how they get these orders.”
A researcher testifying before the committee Monday called the focus on McKinsey a distraction.
Amanda Clarke, associate professor of public administration at Carleton University, said the study should focus on the public service’s dependence on consulting firms overall.
“The focus on outsourcing and contracting in the federal government is broad enough to solve these problems and any company,” Clarke said.
The committee agreed to vote on Johns’ motion next week.