Ex-McKinsey executive Dominic Barton denies being friends with PM

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Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has repeatedly theorized that McKinsey is getting more business because Barton is a “personal friend” of Trudeau.

Published February 01, 2023 • Last updated 9 hours ago • 3 minutes read

110 Comments Former McKinsey and CEO Dominic Barton addresses the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Evaluations on February 1, 2023. Photo by parlvu.parl.gc.ca

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OTTAWA – Canada’s former ambassador to China and former top executive of McKinsey & Company Dominic Barton said he had nothing to do with his former firm’s dealings with the federal government and denied conservative accusations who was friends with the prime minister.

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“Honestly, I am not bad with what I am reading in the newspapers. It’s just unbelievable … because it’s just not true,” Barton said of the Conservatives’ allegations that he had an up close and personal relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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“There is this scheme that I am a kind of puppet and I find it very sad and I find it frustrating because it is not who I am and what I do. And it saddens me,” he added.

Barton testified Wednesday evening before the Government Operations and Estimates Committee as part of its study on the use of consultants by civil servants.

In January, reports revealed that McKinsey had secured $101.4 million in consulting contracts with federal departments since the Liberals took power in 2015. That number is almost 50 times the total value of the contracts awarded to McKinsey by the Conservative government between 2006 and 2015.

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Before Trudeau appointed him Canadian Ambassador to China in 2018, Barton was a global CEO and consulting giant McKinsey. He spent decades with the company and has been based in Asia since 1996.

Since then, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has repeatedly theorized that McKinsey will get more federal contracts under the Liberals because Barton is a “personal friend” of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On Wednesday, Barton repeatedly denied this.

“No, I’m not a friend, we have a professional relationship. I respect him, I think he respects me. I don’t have his personal phone number and I’ve never been in a room alone with him,” Barton replied to a barrage of questions from Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie.

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  1. The Conservatives continue to criticize the Liberal Government over the McKinsey contracts

  2. For McKinsey, contracts are a drop in the bucket of billions spent on government outsourcing: data

He also referred to a National Post article two weeks ago in which he noted that the McKinsey contract is just a drop in the bucket of the hundreds of millions of dollars the government spends each year on consulting firms, including $354 million in 2021-2022 the “Big 4”. ” by Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCooper.

Barton has also repeatedly denied involvement in a number of McKinsey-related controversies in recent years. First, he argued that he had nothing to do with McKinsey’s bid for federal contracts.

“Since I moved to Asia in 1996, I have had no involvement in the federal government’s awarding of paid work to McKinsey,” Barton said in an opening statement to the committee.

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Barton avoided any responsibility for the company’s involvement in the ongoing opioid crisis in North America, going so far as to say that he was not even aware that Purdue was a client while he was the global managing director of McKinsey.

The NDP and Conservatives have also tried repeatedly to find out more about Barton’s role in McKinsey’s work with pharmaceuticals such as OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma. In 2021, McKinsey agreed to pay nearly $600 million to settle investigations in 49 states about its drug consulting work to help them “charge” their opioid sales.

Barton insisted that McKinsey’s work was “legal” but “didn’t meet the company’s standards,” and he felt “very bad” about it. He said that the firm had made some “mistakes” but never explained what they were when prompted by Conservative Deputy Garnett Genuis.

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“As for you, you are not with the Prime Minister. One thing you have in common with him, Sir, is that you don’t seem to take responsibility for anything that happens under you,” said Conservative MP Garnett Genuis after a particularly tough exchange with Barton.

NDP MP Gord Johns accused McKinsey of “seeing every crisis, whether it’s the opioid crisis or a pandemic, as an opportunity” to make money. Barton pushed back, saying it wasn’t a “very good question” and a “biased” analysis that he disagreed with.

The only break from grilling Barton got during his two-hour testimony was from the Liberals, who often used their time to let him respond to allegations from the Conservatives and NDP.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather jokingly remarked that Barton must have done a “terrible job” as the total value of the company’s government contracts increased the most in the years after he left to become ambassador of Canada in China.

Referring to the government’s growing reliance on external consultants, Barton said he believed the bureaucracy’s human resources systems were “weak” and needed to be overhauled through more investment in employee training. public.

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