Mr. Speaker, I move that the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, presented on Tuesday, January 31, be concurred in.
I will be sharing my time with my colleague and friend, the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.
I rise today to speak to the House about the ongoing Liberal-McKinsey scandal. This is the affair through which the government gave over $100 million in contracts to its friends at McKinsey & Company.
The Liberals' response to this scandal has been to say not to not worry, that they will have the ministers responsible for the Treasury Board and procurement investigate what happened in the context of Treasury Board and procurement. In other words, they are not only having Liberals investigate Liberals, but precisely having the Liberal cabinet ministers responsible for this issue in the first place investigating themselves.
The Prime Minister thinks that an appropriate response to waste and corruption within his own government is to have the ministers responsible for that waste and corruption investigating themselves. The Conservatives do not think that is an appropriate response to scandal, and that is why we are moving this motion today to call for an independent investigation by Canada's non-partisan Auditor General.
Of course, we have seen in the House the Auditor General attacked by the Minister of National Revenue. The Conservatives have faith in our independent officers of Parliament, and that is why we want to bring in the Auditor General and ask her to investigate the waste and corruption we are seeing under the Liberal government.
The Liberal-McKinsey affair has three main elements to it. We can speak about corruption, about control and about character.
The Liberals have given over $100 million that we know of so far in contracts to McKinsey & Company. At the same time as McKinsey was selling its services to the Liberal government, Dominic Barton, who was the managing partner of McKinsey, was leading the Prime Minister's own growth council. Although Dominic Barton has said that he is not friends with the Prime Minister, that he barely knows these people and that he did not recognize the Prime Minister in an elevator the first time he saw him, we have the Deputy Prime Minister talking about how close Dominic Barton was to the Prime Minister, how accessible he was and how they had a relationship of being able to contact each other any time, which was build up over time.
On the word of the Deputy Prime Minister, there is a close relationship between the managing director of McKinsey at the time and the Prime Minister. Analysts at McKinsey are doing analytical work for the Prime Minister's growth council at the same time as McKinsey is selling its consulting services to the government. It is no surprise under those circumstances, when we have these clear conflicts of interest and close relationships, that there was a significant spike with respect to the volume of contracts McKinsey was getting from the government. We have conflicts of interest driven by these relationships.
Let us talk as well about control, because Canadians are asking who is pulling the strings, who is making the decisions and who is really deciding the direction of the government. What has been happening with the government is that it has been bringing in high-priced outside consultants, who have been both selling to the government and also making very significant policy decisions. They have been doing work that the public service has said it could be doing itself. We do not know what these consultants are doing, but the consultants are playing a very significant role in setting policy and direction, and they are not subject to the same kinds of transparency requirements as the public service.
If Canadians want to know what discussions were happening within the public service, they can use the transparency and accountability tools that are available to them. However, if Canadians want to know about decisions that are made at McKinsey that are in fact shaping what happens in government, they are not able to access that information. In fact, up until now, McKinsey has not even been willing to provide its client list and that is a huge problem, because McKinsey has a history of working on both sides of the same issue.
In the United States, we had instances where McKinsey was working for the FDA, which is responsible for approving drugs, and it was working for pharmaceutical companies at the same time. It is working for the approval body as well as for the companies that are seeking that approval. In fact, the New York Times revealed instances where the same individual was working for both the FDA and those making the applications.
Is that same thing happening in Canada? Do we have decisions being made by McKinsey while it is also working for clients who benefit from those decisions? The reality is that we do not know, because McKinsey will not disclose its client list. Therefore, there is a lack of transparency and there is influence and control coming from these high-priced consultants who are being hired by the government.
Therefore, there are issues of corruption and control. However, there are also issues of character.
Who is this company? Who is McKinsey, and what has it done around the world? Most notably for the impact it is having here in Canada, McKinsey worked for Purdue Pharma. This is the company that invented OxyContin and was responsible for driving the opioid crisis that has devastated our communities.
In 2007, Purdue pleaded guilty to criminal misbranding of its products and downplaying the addiction risk to market these opioids to people. It did this so that it could make money with total disregard for the suffering caused. After 2007, McKinsey continued to work for Purdue Pharma even though it had pleaded guilty. McKinsey put together proposals with a number of recommendations aimed at helping Purdue Pharma supercharge its opioid sales.
Those recommendations included, incredibly, paying bonuses to pharmacists in instances of overdose deaths. In cases where traditional pharmacies were trying to put in place mechanisms to prevent over-prescription, McKinsey proposed that one could have a mail-in process for people to order opioids without needing to go to traditional pharmacies, allowing them to circumvent the checks that existed.
McKinsey was doing this kind of work for Purdue with no regard for basic ethical or moral norms. That was when Dominic Barton was leading McKinsey. I asked him about this at committee last week, and Mr. Barton said he had no idea that McKinsey was doing this work for Purdue. It was a client for 10 years, and the managing director claimed he had no idea.
McKinsey has done other work around the world. It has worked with Russian state-owned and affiliated companies. It has worked with a Chinese state-affiliated company that is building militarized islands in the South China Sea.
These points speak to the character of this company. If we want to talk about conflict of interest, we have a company that is doing work for the Department of National Defence here in Canada while working with Russian and Chinese state-owned and state-affiliated companies.
McKinsey did a report for the Saudi government in which it identified influential dissidents who were driving criticism of Saudi economic policy. Not surprisingly, after those accounts were identified, these dissidents were subject to various forms of harassment. One of them actually lives in Canada and was subject to harassment on Canadian soil.
We have corruption. We have conflict of interest. We have control. We have a lack of character from this company. This is the company that the Prime Minister keeps. This is the company that has gotten over $100 million in contracts.
While Canadians are suffering, well-connected Liberal insiders have never had it so good, especially the well-connected Liberal insiders at McKinsey.
In the context of this scandal, the government's response is that it is going to have the cabinet ministers responsible for procurement and for the Treasury Board do their own investigation. That is clearly not good enough.
The Liberals have made a complete mess of governance. They are wasting taxpayers' dollars and giving money to their friends. The public service is growing, and they are giving more and more money to outside consultants. We cannot trust the Liberals, who are responsible for these scandals, to then come in and say that they are going to investigate themselves.
That is why, as an urgent matter, it is time to ask the Auditor General to come in and get to the bottom of what happened here. We need the resources and the ingenuity of the Auditor General to find out what is happening and assess value for money.
There are many different aspects to this scandal. Canadians need to decide, at a basic character level, if this is the kind of company that they want to see their prime minister doing business with. The Auditor General is well positioned to assess value for money, to say, “What did we actually get for this $100 million-plus?”
How much money was actually spent, by the way? We cannot get a straight answer from the government on this. Moreover, was there value for money? Many public servants have told the media that they do not know what work was done. They brought in PowerPoint slides and said that they were going to change everything, but nothing got done.
It is time to bring in the Auditor General. Conservatives want this motion adopted so that the Auditor General will help all of us get to the bottom of what happened between the Liberals and McKinsey.