OTTAWA — Dominic Barton, the former global managing director of McKinsey & Company, says he had no involvement in federal contracts awarded to the firm in recent years.
"I had no involvement whatsoever in any awarding of paid work to McKinsey by the federal government since I relocated to Asia in 1996," Barton told members of Parliament on Wednesday.
Barton made the comments at a meeting of the House of Commons government operations committee, which is studying federal contracts awarded to McKinsey.
McKinsey has received attention in recent weeks after media reports highlighted a rapid increase in the company's consulting work for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government.
Ottawa's relationship with Barton had come under scrutiny amid questions about the extent of the firm's influence on public policy.
Barton was the chair of an advisory council on economic growth for former finance minister Bill Morneau and later served as Canada's ambassador to China.
In his opening remarks, the former McKinsey executive said he is not a partisan.
"I'm not a partisan adviser. I'm not a member or supporter of any political party or any candidate," Barton said.
He also highlighted that he is no longer affiliated with the consulting firm and does not benefit from McKinsey's financial success.
"It has now been over three and a half years since I left McKinsey and sold all my shares," he said.
In response to questions from MPs, he went on to deny allegations that he is friends with Trudeau, maintaining that the relationship is strictly professional.
"I am not a friend," Barton said.
While testifying, Barton also faced questions about his time as the chair of Morneau's advisory council and McKinsey's global track record.
The NDP is hoping to see the committee expand its study of federal contracts awarded to McKinsey & Company and include other consulting firms that have received large contracts.
New Democrat MP Gord Johns is bringing forward a motion to expand the scope of the study to include other firms including Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Accenture, KPMG and Ernst & Young.
A researcher testifying before the committee on Monday called the focus on McKinsey a distraction.
Amanda Clarke, an associate professor of public administration at Carleton University, said the study should focus on the public service's reliance on consulting firms overall.
"The focus on outsourcing and contracting in the federal government is the broad enough umbrella to get at these issues and any given firm," Clarke said.
Barton said organizations outside government have been using consultants more in recent years, including in the private and social sectors.
He said it makes sense for the committee to look at the federal government's use of consultants, but he wasn't sure why McKinsey was being singled out.
"I think this committee is good to look at the impact and what people are doing," he said. "I don’t know why McKinsey is the only focus."
The committee has asked the auditor general to review the contracts awarded to the firm based on performance and value for money.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2023.
Nojoud Al Mallees, The Canadian Press