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The value of one consulting firm’s federal contracts has skyrocketed under the Trudeau government

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The consulting firm McKinsey & Company has seen the amount of money it earns from federal contracts explode since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to power — to the point where some suggest it may have a central role in shaping Canada’s immigration policies.

A Radio-Canada investigation also learned the private consulting firm’s influence is raising concerns within the federal public service.

According to public accounts data from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the Liberals spent 30 times more money on McKinsey’s services than Stephen Harper’s Conservatives did.

In the nine years of the Harper government, McKinsey was awarded $2.2 million in federal contracts. During Trudeau’s seven years in office, the company has received $66 million from the federal government.

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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.

For example, Export Development Canada has paid McKinsey $7.3 million to provide various analyses since last year. The Business Development Bank of Canada paid the company $8.8 million for advice in 2021 and 2022.

Major role in immigration department

Radio-Canada’s analysis shows that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has turned to McKinsey the most since 2015, with $24.5 million in contracts for management advice.

IRCC and the Canada Border Services Agency account for 44 per cent of federal compensation issued to the firm.

McKinsey refused to answer Radio-Canada questions regarding its role and agreements with the federal government. The government did not provide copies of the firm’s reports in response to Radio-Canada’s request.

McKinsey’s influence over Canadian immigration policy has grown in recent years without the public’s knowledge, according to two sources within IRCC. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

A building closeup with a sign that reads 'Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada.'
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has been McKinsey and Co.’s best customer within the federal government since 2015. (Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

Both held major roles within the department during the height of the consulting firm’s influence and spoke to Radio-Canada separately.

“It was completely opaque. We asked to collaborate, to share our ideas, but it didn’t work,” said one source with an important position within IRCC.

“McKinsey was an idea from the government. The policy was decided for civil servants. It causes a lot of operational instability,” said the second source.

“These people, these firms forget the public interest, they’re not interested in it. They’re not accountable.”

According to contracts, McKinsey was hired by IRCC to develop and implement various strategies for “transformation.”

An IRCC spokesperson said the consulting firm was tasked with reviewing, developing and implementing digital tools, processes and services.

The department spokesperson said the contract was revised during the pandemic — at an increased cost — to help IRCC respond to pressures related to the pandemic, deal with acute demand and maintain essential services for clients.

A mandate for ‘transformation’

Representatives of McKinsey facilitated or attended about 10 meetings of the IRCC transformation committee, according to documents obtained under access to information law. The documents do not include details of those presentations.

“We had a few presentations on very generic, completely vapid stuff. They arrived with nice colours, nice presentations and said they would revolutionize everything,” one of the sources said.

“In the end, we don’t have any idea what they did,” the source added, referring to “nice marketing” that “isn’t science.”

Before a federal committee hearing in late November, IRCC Deputy Minister Christiane Fox said McKinsey was involved in the transformation and modernization of the department’s systems.

“According to managers and politicians, everything that comes from outside is always better, even if we had enough resources internally,” said one department source.

“[McKinsey] always says they have great expertise, but it doesn’t make sense because we have expertise and we’re completely pushed aside,” said the other.

McKinsey head recommended immigration boost

The IRCC sources are also critical of McKinsey’s possible influence over Canada’s immigration targets.

Ottawa announced a plan this fall to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents each year by 2025, with an emphasis on fostering economic growth.

The target and its stated justification follow similar conclusions in the 2016 report of the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, chaired by McKinsey’s then-global head Dominic Barton.

Then-Finance Minister Bill Morneau (right) looks on as Dominic Barton, chair of the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, speaks at a news conference in 2016. Morneau formed the council during his time as finance minister. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The advisory council recommended a gradual increase in permanent immigration to 450,000 people per year to respond to labour market dynamics. At the time, Canada was accepting about 320,000 permanent residents.

John McCallum, the immigration minister at the time, expressed his reservations about the “huge figure” presented in the report.

But one of the sources at IRCC said the department was quickly told that the advisory council’s report was a foundational plan.

‘Telling truth to power’

While Dominic Barton chaired the advisory council from 2016 to 2019, he left McKinsey in July 2018 after a 30-year career with the firm. The next month, the consulting firm started its first contract with IRCC.

Trudeau named Barton Canada’s ambassador to China in 2019 — a post he held for two years before leaving and joining the mining firm Rio Tinto.

Shortly before the pandemic, parliamentarians pressed Barton on the work he did for Chinese businesses during his time at McKinsey.

“I’m very proud of my career and time in the private sector,” Barton said. “We’re known for telling truth to power.”

Barton is also a co-founder of The Century Initiative, an advocacy group calling for policies that would bring Canada’s population to 100 million by 2100.

Dominic Barton was Canada’s ambassador to China from 2019 to 2021 after 30 years at McKinsey. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The group was founded in 2011, while Barton was still at McKinsey, and has an current executive from the firm on its board of executives.

The Century Initiative has been listed on Canada’s lobbyist registry since 2021. It has organized meetings with the immigration minister’s office, the minister’s parliamentary secretary and Conservative and NDP MPs.

Radio-Canada’s questions to Barton about the increase in McKinsey’s contracts have not been answered.

Single-source contracts

Departments other than IRCC also have turned to McKinsey.

Public Services and Procurement Canada used the company for computer services. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada hired it for management advice, as well as science and research services.

The Department of National Defence also paid McKinsey several million dollars for leadership development.

Some of these contracts are still in progress and their total cost isn’t known yet.

According to Radio-Canada’s research, PSPC has called upon McKinsey on behalf of various federal entities for 18 contracts since 2021 — contracts worth more than $45 million.

All of those contracts were sole-source, according to documents obtained by Radio-Canada.

The Prime Minister’s Office referred questions to the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS). In a statement, the TBS said external professional services bring in specific expertise and help to address fluctuations in the civil service workload.

According to TBS spokesperson Martin Potvin, such a contract could help fill shortages in certain work groups or geographic locations.

He said the decision to resort to outside firms rests with individual departments.

‘Shadow government’

Benoit Duguay, a professor at the Université de Québec à Montreal’s School of Management Services, said he’s surprised by McKinsey’s apparent influence.

“How come McKInsey has the skills to do absolutely everything a government does? … It looks like another level of government. Almost a supranational government,” Duguay said in French.

(Duguay is a former consultant himself, though not at McKinsey.)

Isabelle Fortier, professor at the École nationale d’administration publique in Quebec, said the use of firms like McKinsey suggests a break between politics and administration of the state.

She said it supplants the internal expertise of the civil service and operates as a “shadow government” without transparency or legitimacy.

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.

Controversy and calls for accountability

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.

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

McKinsey and Co. was hired to provide advice to the governments of Ontario, Quebec and several countries on pandemic response and recovery. (AFP via Getty Images)

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.

In Canada, some experts are also calling for an inquiry.

Ontario lawyer Lou Janssen Dangzalan, who has been studying IRCC’s digital reforms, said an inquiry could provide transparency on how consulting companies handle government contracts.

Fortier, who studied McKinsey’s record in France, said she supports a public inquiry into the use of consulting firms.

“We must force the black boxes to open,” she said in French.

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Canada sharing Haiti sanctions evidence, in bid to convince UN peers to freeze elites

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Canada sharing Haiti sanctions

Ottawa is sharing confidential dossiers in a bid to convince countries like France to join its efforts to sanction Haiti’s elites, says Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations.

“We continue to share whatever information we can — with respect to the decisions that we have made — with other countries,” Bob Rae said in an interview.

“Canada still maintains the right to make its own decisions as well, which is what we’re doing.”

Rae visited Haiti last December as part of Canada’s efforts to try forming a political consensus on how western countries should best respond to the country’s cascading political and humanitarian crises.

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Violent, feuding gangs have taken over the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince since last summer. A UN report last October said gangs are sexually assaulting women and children, in addition to curtailing access to health care, electricity and clean water.

The gangs have reportedly killed and kidnapped hundreds, while filling a power vacuum in a country led by politicians whose terms have expired. No elections have been held since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country’s unelected prime minister, Ariel Henry, has requested a foreign military intervention, which Washington says Canada ought to lead, though the idea is divisive among Haitians.

Instead, Canada has sought a political consensus in Haiti, and has sanctioned 15 of the country’s political and economic elite, accusing them of emboldening the gangs.

Canada has not publicly shared the evidence upon which it has based those decisions. The length of its Haiti sanctions list is unmatched.

The U.S. sanctioned just four Haitians last year over alleged ties to gangs, in addition to three whom Washington had sanctioned in 2020.

Most countries have opted to follow a United Nations process to identify people affiliated with gangs who should be subject to sanction. It has listed just one person since October — gang federation leader Jimmy Cherizier, known locally as “Barbecue.”

Anyone who ends up on that list will see a nearly global travel and assets ban. But Rae said it is expected that countries will take a long time to agree on who merits such heavy restrictions.

“Canada knew the process at the UN could become a complex one,” he said.

“We thought it was important for us to get ahead of that process, which we fully respect, and look forward to hearing from the experts.”

In an interview with The Canadian Press last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on European governments to follow Canada’s lead and implement their own, unilateral sanctions on Haiti’s elites. That hasn’t happened yet.

In an interview earlier this month, former governor general Michaëlle Jean, who has roots in Haiti, singled France out for doing “nothing at all” on sanctions.

The French embassy in Ottawa deferred to the speech France gave Monday to the UN Security Council, suggesting that the country is sticking with the UN sanctions process.

“France welcomes the establishment of the (sanctions) committee and its panel of experts. We hope that this committee will quickly get to work to make proposals,” senior diplomat Nathalie Broadhurst told the council.

“It is with a sense of great urgency that France calls on the international community to redouble its efforts.”

Rae said sanctions from France would likely have a strong effect. He also noted that the neighbouring Dominican Republic is a haven for Haitian elites, but it lacks laws to sanction individuals.

“We’re having some discussions with the EU and with the French and others. We’re continuing to have as constructive a dialogue as we can,” he said.

“Our experience in Haiti has been that the sanctions have had a strong impact. And obviously, their impact is increased when other countries join in.”

To that end, Rae said Canada has been giving the UN sanctions committee and other countries the evidence that Ottawa has used in its decision-making.

“We’ve been talking to the panel and sharing information, and sharing as much documentation as we can,” said Rae, who said that the evidence can’t be made public.

Unlike other countries such as Britain, which publishes detailed reasons when it places someone on its sanctions list, the Canadian approach is to keep reasons confidential.

Former Haitian prime ministers Laurent Lamothe and Jean-Henry Céant have both demanded that Canada reveal its reasoning, with both denying Ottawa’s claims that they have supported gangs. Lamothe has filed a claim in Federal Court, while Céant asked the UN this week to intervene against Canada.

“We have to deal with this information carefully. It’s important for everybody to know that the law has to be followed carefully,” Rae said.

“None of these decisions are taken lightly, and they’re all taken in the awareness that many people will naturally not be happy about being sanctioned, will be obviously exercising the rights they have under our legal structure.”

In Haiti, the National Network for the Defence of Human Rights has reported that Canada’s sanctions have slightly alleviated the suffering, with gangs loosening their grip on locals’ movements.

“They were ordered to calm down,” director Rosy Auguste Ducena told Radio France International earlier this month in French.

“Those who have not yet been affected by these sanctions have decided to slow down their relations with the armed bandits.”

Yet a former U.S. envoy for Haiti, Dan Foote, has doubts. He resigned in September 2021 over frustration with western policies he witnessed in Haiti, which he argued in his resignation letter “consistently produce catastrophic results.”

“For sanctions to work, those sanctions need to be transparent,” Foote said in an interview.

He added that sanctions can have unintended negative consequences. “There are a few people who would have brought a lot of Haitians to the table who are now under sanctions.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.

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Lotto 649 winning numbers for Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

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The winning numbers in Wednesday’s Lotto 649 draw for an estimated $5 million: 05, 13, 24, 33, 35 & 41.

Bonus: 43

The winning number for the guaranteed $1 million: 06007245-01

In the event of any discrepancy between this list and the official winning numbers, the latter shall prevail.

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Monopolies control Our Economies

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Rogers-Shaw deal
The proposed Roger-Shaw Merger is feared to be a stepping stone for increased costs to consumers. Multi Billions of dollars have to be exchanged, and the controlling agent will have to make this cost up somehow. Further fear of a shrinking Communications Monopoly within Canada has spurred politicians to seek a reason for this merger. Monopoly economics has been rooted in Canadian Business Models for many years. A smallish population, distributed over a very large land mass, presents businesses with huge challenges and costs to be assumed.
Many of our industrial and agricultural sectors are controlled by monopolies that allowed them to grow to astronomical power levels by those who these monopolies support financially, and control politically.
Control by monopoly
Agriculture: 85 % of all seed manufacturers are controlled by 5 corporations worldwide, leaving only 12-15% to the free market distribution and sales. Every fertilizer and seed provided to our farmers has been controlled through patents by 5-6 corporations.
Grocery: Canada has only 5-6 major corporations that control and manage a huge network of grocery stores, supplier lists, and distribution networks. A monopoly exists within this sector, with price fixing and lackluster supply chain control nationwide.
Manufacturing: American cars cannot be bought in the US and brought up here. Try it. An agreement in kind exists limiting Canadian consumers to Canadian-supplied vehicles. Furthermore, the Car Giants are limiting the introduction of domestic and foreign manufacturers to enter our economy and market. Believers in a free market when they actually control said market. New technology is not allowed to develop on its own, establishing its own production facilities. The auto giants will manipulate these manufacturers and acquire any said technology through hook or crook methods. Protectionist activities go with monopolistic methods, limiting competition and driving their financial goals forward.
Communications-Technological Sector: Acquiring, amalgamating, and coopting their sector’s competition is the monopolies methodology. The cost of doing business in this field has driven prices to the roof making Canada’s Communication Sector the most costly in the world. Profits upon profits, where corporations making billions of dollars receive taxpayer’s funds as a corporate welfare scheme. The Federal Government is investigating these monopolies in turn, and while they have the opportunity to open the marketplace to American Businesses, driving Rogers-Bells prices down, they will not. These same said firms donate millions to our political institutions. Greasing the wheels of industry, it is said.
Canada’s economy is equivalent in size to some American states, yet is controlled by said monopolies and the Federal Government. Often working hand in hand, these organizations work for the benefit of shareholders, private equity funds, and owners, not the consumer. Big Government requires Big Bucks to function. It is always easier to work with an oligarchy than a large group of let’s say, legislators, citizens, and consumers. Big business is not democratic in the least but prefers to set certain boundaries that monopolies and authoritarian regimes offer.  Look at your marketplace where ever you may be, whether in North or Central America, The Caribbean, Asia, or the EU. You will find the tentacles of monopoly everywhere, with its often hidden influences upon your local governments.
The Canadian and American Marketplace is not a free market, but controlled, manipulated, and regulated by the not-so-new gangsters on the block…Monopolies and their storm troops (The Federal Government). Our North American Economy will continue to be controlled by a smaller and smaller group of financial giants.
Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca
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