Another week of the Trudeau government’s rot

Longtime Ottawa observers marvel at the Trudeau government’s ability to carry on in the face of multiple scandals and flagrant breaches of public trust. Pictured: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo Credit: Justin Trudeau/X. 

There were reports released of parliamentarians that are knowingly collaborating with foreign governments, Liberal-friendly companies being routinely contracted hundreds of millions of dollars, and a steady stream of damning stories of ineptitude and foul play. Such is a single week’s worth of Ottawa news in this Trudeau government era. 

Compromised parliamentarians 

What was once an inquiry into foreign interference with Canada’s election has become much more alarming this week with the bombshell security and intelligence report tabled in Parliament. The report concludes that some Canadian politicians are actively working with the foreign governments of China and India in what might be “illegal behaviour” to advance their own interests. The report is also critical of the Trudeau government’s delays in investigating foreign interference, stating, “This slow response to a known threat was a serious failure and one from which Canada may feel the consequences for years to come.”

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) report reads: “Unfortunately, the committee has also seen troubling intelligence that some Parliamentarians are, in the words of the intelligence services, ‘semi-witting or witting’ participants in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in our politics.” 

NSICOP provides examples of parliamentarians “communicating frequently with foreign missions before or during a political campaign to obtain support from community groups or businesses which the diplomatic missions promise to quietly mobilize in a candidate’s favour.” 

Other parliamentarians are “accepting knowingly, or through willful blindness, funds or benefits from foreign missions or their proxies which have been layered or otherwise disguised to conceal their source.” Others are: “providing foreign diplomatic officials with privileged information on the work or opinions of fellow Parliamentarians, knowing that such information will be used by those officials to inappropriately pressure Parliamentarians to change their positions.”

NSICOP’s report dominated the debates throughout the week. Conservative MPs have called on the government to identify the individual parliamentarians. Pierre Poilievre states, “Canadians have the right to know who.” In response, a parade of Liberal ministers have resolutely stated they will not name names. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland simply stated, “Let me just say this, we take foreign interference really, really seriously.”

With these hollow reassurances, political pundits and even some in legacy media view the report’s revelations of treasonous espionage activity by parliamentarians as alarming and disturbing. From CSIS reports and memos released in the past few weeks it is now understood the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has known for years of the foreign interference in country affairs – and direct interference in the last two election campaigns. The NSICOP report places the PMO’s conduct in a wholly different light. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his staff know the parliamentarians in question, so one is left to consider why those MPs and Senators have been permitted to operate as foreign agents. 

In a CBC News interview, Wesley Wark, a national security expert, commented that the NSICOP report provides a glimpse of “underbelly stories” that are “nausea-inducing.” Terry Glavin, argumentatively the most knowledgeable newsman on the nefarious influence that the Chinese Communist Party exerts in Ottawa, states, “A clandestine intervention in Canada’s elections is not exactly “interference” if it’s solicited, invited and welcomed, and it’s not precisely “foreign” if the culprits are willing Canadian operatives and proxies in foreign-directed influence campaigns.”

A McKinsey boondoggle  

Federal Auditor General Karen Hogan uncovered another disturbing government boondoggle involving McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm that was once headed up by PM Trudeau’s friend Dominic Barton – that is until Barton was named Canada’s ambassador to China. 

Hogan’s office looked at all of the contracts awarded to McKinsey by federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations between 2011 and February 2023. Her report “found frequent disregard for procurement policies and guidance and risk to value for money across the contracts awarded to McKinsey & Company both by departments and agencies and by Crown corporations.”

Almost three of four (71 per cent) of the 97 contracts were sole sourced, awarded without an open competition. Nine out of 10 departments and agencies, and eight out of 10 Crown corporations failed to properly follow their own procurement policies when managing McKinsey’s work.  

Of the $209 million in contracts that were awarded to McKinsey, the auditor general says that $200 million was spent, even though, with a majority of the contracts, the value for dollar could not be determined. Of 33 contracts sampled for compliance, Hogan’s office found 19 where the government could not demonstrate the contracts delivered value for money spent.

Hogan found that prior to 2015, McKinsey’s government contracts totaled less than $3 million annually. With the election of the Trudeau government that total increased significantly; in the year 2021-22, McKinsey made more than $55 million in federal contracts. 

Routine Foul Play  

Auditor General Karen Hogan released another report on Tuesday that looked into spending by Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a $1 billion agency created to dole out subsidies for green ventures. This agency captured headlines last year when it was revealed that the chair and known Liberal-donor Annettee Verschuren gave her own company a $217,000 grant. Hogan found that the agency had paid out $856 million in subsidies and it violated conflict of interest guidelines 90 times providing tens of millions of dollars to companies with ties to its own directors and managers. There have also been 10 projects awarded $59 million which were not eligible for the environmental grants. (Note that when the Hogan report was made public, the government immediately cancelled the agency.) 

Another politically embarrassing story broke this week at the MPs ethics committee, when employment minister Randy Boissonnault had difficulty explaining his involvement with his consultancy company of which he retains a 50 per cent stake. Boissonnault told MPs though he still receives payment – trailer fees – on contracts he managed prior to his election, since he became minister he has not been involved in the operations of Global Health Imports. The issue with the minister’s story is the text communications that has surfaced in which Boissonnault was mentioned to be counselling former co-worker in September 2022, when he was in office, in cabinet. The minister denies any wrong-doing and went as far as to state the “Randy” in the text messages was not referring to him. 

And there was so much more this week, ironically ending with Trudeau standing on the beaches of Normandy waxing on about defending democracy against “demagoguery, misinformation, disinformation, foreign interference.” Great irony indeed.  

Longtime Ottawa observers, those in media and government affairs, marvel at the Trudeau government’s ability to carry on in the face of multiple scandals and flagrant breaches of public trust. In any other democracy in the world one of these scandals would rock a government and perhaps drive it from office. Yet, with the steadfast support of the NDP, the Trudeau Liberals endure – unchecked to dump on Canadians yet another week of rot.

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