Quebec Tory Leader Calls for Inquiry Into Pandemic Management by Private Firm

by EditorK

Gloria Lallouz, the first person to be vaccinated at the center, arrives at a press conference organized at the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Center in Montreal, Quebec on December 14, 2020. (Photo by ANDREJ IVANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

By Noé Chartier

Quebec Conservative Party Leader Éric Duhaime on Friday called for an inquiry into the outsourcing of many facets of the province’s pandemic management to U.S. consulting firm McKinsey, including any potential conflict-of-interest issues.

“Should we understand that the [François] Legault government gave a consulting firm the duty to manage Quebec in 2020, with all the negative consequences this had on the lives of millions of Quebecers?” Duhaime said in a statement.

“Who really managed the pandemic in Quebec? Were Mr. Legault and Mr. Dubé the puppets of McKinsey?” he asked, referring to the premier and Health Minister Christian Dubé.

The leader of the Quebec Conservative Party (PCQ) was reacting to an investigative report by Radio-Canada (French CBC) published on Friday.

The involvement of McKinsey with Quebec’s government had been known since 2020, but not the extent.

In May 2020, Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) blocked a motion by the opposition requesting the disclosure of documents produced by McKinsey for the province.

Radio-Canada says it was able to draw a better portrait of McKinsey’s impact on pandemic management by reviewing over 200 internal emails, contracts, and work documents, obtained through sources or access to information requests.

Key Role

Radio-Canada revealed that McKinsey had a key role in managing the vaccination campaign in Quebec.

On Dec. 14, 2020, the first day of the campaign, a McKinsey employee was providing guidance to the top official in charge.

“Congratulations for that first day, which is going well. Here are my notes on follow-ups (action, person in charge, delays). Don’t hesitate to make modifications,” the McKinsey partner said in an email to Daniel Paré, director of the vaccination campaign.

While McKinsey’s contract with the government of Quebec says the firm would work to prevent conflicts between its interests and those of the government, another provision says it would not disclose its list of other clients.

Duhaime says this is problematic, given reporting that McKinsey had Pfizer as a client during the vaccination campaign.

That information was discovered by a French Senate investigation into McKinsey’s activities in managing France’s pandemic.

The Senate report indicates that McKinsey has other large pharmaceutical companies as clients, along with pro-vaccination organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi.

Radio-Canada revealed McKinsey advised in November 2020 that a deal should be made with Pfizer regarding distribution sites.

In December 2020, a McKinsey adviser suggested to then public health director Horacio Arruda that he “make a recommendation to the minister regarding the importance to have an in-depth discussion with Pfizer regarding the need to keep the second dose.”

“There is certainly an appearance of conflict of interest and it’s essential this issue be looked at thoroughly,” said Duhaime about the potential McKinsey-Pfizer links.

Along with the vaccination issue, Radio-Canada’s report says McKinsey was involved in “crucial decisions” during the pandemic by providing advice and help with strategic communications.

“The private firm coordinated decision-making teams and summoned at will top officials, in group meetings or one-on-one,” wrote Radio-Canada.

McKinsey’s services came at the cost of $35,000 a day. In total, the government paid the company $1.7 million to craft the province’s re-opening strategy, and another $4.9 million for a plan to relaunch the economy.

Radio-Canada also revealed McKinsey had access to confidential documents.

The Epoch Times reached out to McKinsey and Quebec’s executive council but didn’t hear back before publication time. The Epoch Times also requested comment from the province’s health department, but was was deferred to the executive council.

Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal. Twitter: @NChartierET Gettr: @nchartieret

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