A video of Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland talking about the “personal connection” with Dominic Barton, former Global Managing Director of McKinsey & Company, has resurfaced, painting a new light on the controversy involving the consulting firm’s contracts with the federal government.
Barton, a former senior policy adviser and ambassador to China under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, is set to testify before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday about the surge in federal outsourcing to the New York-based consulting firm.
“I’ve known [Barton] for a long time,” Freeland said in the video, at the time when she was announcing Barton’s appointment as ambassador to China. “The Prime Minister knows him well, as well.”
In describing Barton’s then-appointment, Freeland characterized him as having that “personal connection” with her and the prime minister–someone who can “speak directly” to the top two federal government officials.
She added that Barton enjoys direct access with her and the prime minister, “in such close and direct contact.”
Barton served as both the head of McKinsey and the chair of former Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s advisory council on economic growth during the early days of Trudeau’s government. The council was assisted by McKinsey experts and made numerous major policy suggestions, several of which were implemented to some extent by the Liberal government, such as significantly boosting Canada’s yearly immigration targets and establishing a Canada Infrastructure Bank.
He was then selected as Canada’s ambassador to China in September 2019 after leaving McKinsey. Barton then ended that appointment in December 2021. Afterwards, he was named chairman of Rio Tinto, a worldwide mining firm, the following month.
Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) published costs statistics, stating that it has granted McKinsey 23 contracts totaling $101.4 million since 2015. The agency followed up this week, stating that the most recent data reveals the company has obtained 24 contracts totaling $104.6 million through PSPC, the government’s central purchaser. The government stated that its original estimate was “accurate at the time,” but a refresh of the department’s contract management system revealed a freshly issued contract worth $3.2-million.
An initial assessment discovered an additional ten contracts worth a total of $12.2 million issued to McKinsey by other departments and agencies, putting the total amount now at at least $116.8 million. The department emphasizes that “this is not the final or exhaustive list.”
Among the contracts in focus during the committee hearing will be those worth millions of dollars issued by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to McKinsey, including some strange expenditure decisions, such as flying a private chauffeur to British Columbia to bring the BDC President Isabelle Hudon about.
McKinsey was given a $2.8 million contract by the BDC to conduct a “strategic review” in August 2021. A $2.1 million extension in June 2022 increased the contract’s total value to $4.9 million.
Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre questioned the personal connection of Barton to Trudeau and the Liberal leaders, and how it could be influential in winning the said multimillion contracts.
“Over at McKinsey, where his personal friend Dominic Barton was the boss… we now know that he spent $15 billion plus per year on high priced consultants while Canadians are eating at food banks, living in homeless shelters, and house prices have more than doubled,” Poilievre said. “Again, how much did his government give McKinsey?”
On Monday, however, Amanda Clarke, an associate professor of public administration at Carleton University, testified on the parliamentary committee’s hearing saying that McKinsey is essentially a “distraction” to the problem of consulting contracts.
Clarke said that there are real concerns about McKinsey’s ethical track record, but that this is a separate problem from the outsourcing of government jobs.
Information for this briefing was found via CBC, The Globe and Mail, Lethbridge Herald, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.