The Extremes of a Power Serving the Rich -- the Other Façade of Legault Nationalism

– Pierre Soublière –

According to a Radio-Canada investigation, the McKinsey company played a central role in the entire period of the pandemic.

In May 2020, the Legault government rejected a request from the opposition parties to make public the transmission of all opinions and documents produced by the firm.[1] The confidential documents obtained show that the private consultants contributed to crucial decisions during the pandemic by providing advice to the Legault government, including on the communications strategy. They developed scenarios for purchasing protective equipment and worked on the PCR testing strategy. They also proposed solutions to remedy the shortage of staff in CHSLDs.

McKinsey's advice was billed to Quebec at $215,000 per week, plus taxes, or $35,000 per day, for the period from April to June 2020. In December, the bill was $247,196, still $35,000 per day. In total, the government officially paid $1.7 million for McKinsey to help prepare its plan to end the lockdown period, and $4.9 million to support it in the economic recovery plan.

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The consultancy steered committees, organized strategic meetings, distributed roles in working groups and had access to confidential information.

The consulting firm worked closely with the government on the health care human resources file. On May 26, 2020, McKinsey sent a document for discussion entitled "Levers for Addressing Human Resource Issues in CHSLDs." The objective was to find solutions to remedy the staff shortage.

Radio-Canada counted the presence of 10 different McKinsey consultants who worked closely with senior Quebec officials in 2020.

During the pandemic, McKinsey's clients included governments in the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Ontario, and companies in all sectors of the economy, including pharmaceuticals, and international organizations.

Like other consulting firms, McKinsey works simultaneously for several public and private clients whose interests may conflict. The firm itself acknowledges this in its agreement with Quebec. On occasion, McKinsey has, at the same time, represented both a drug supplier and the public authority that authorizes the drug, as revealed by the New York Times.[2] The same thing happened in Quebec. Radio-Canada found several working papers produced by McKinsey that bore the logo of the Quebec government and the words "Your government."

The investigation shows that between April and June 2020, McKinsey also collaborated with other ministries and agencies, such as the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, the Ministry of Public Security, the CNESST and the Quebec Secretariat for Canadian Relations. The emails consulted do not show direct links to the Ministry of Education. However, McKinsey writes in a working paper that it has highlighted issues related to the reopening of CPEs (early childhood education centres) and primary schools (e.g. safeguards and student-teacher ratios).

While Quebec signed a $1.7 million contract with McKinsey on April 2, 2020, Ontario signed a contract with the same firm for $1.6 million the next day.[3]

On July 20, 2020, when the firm's mandate had been completed for nearly two months, McKinsey attempted to approach an executive in François Legault's ministry. "Is the management structure of COVID-19 evolving to your liking?" asked the consulting firm's representative in the email, and, "Don't hesitate if we can help with anything." He informs that many jurisdictions in North America are currently thinking about modernizing the state and preparing for future pandemics. The Legault government called on the firm's services again four months later, and again a year later.

McKinsey is a notorious firm. In a September 29 New York Times article about a book entitled When McKinsey Comes to Town -- The Hidden Influence of the World's Most Powerful Consulting Firm, it is stated that McKinsey has immense influence in its pursuit of profits at the expense of moral principles. It is reported that the firm has, among other things, worked with U.S. immigration authorities responsible for the family separation policy at the Southern border. Many of McKinsey's recommendations are based on laying off workers and other forms of cutbacks, such as cutting spending on food, medical care and monitoring detainees at the border. The picture this book paints is one of a profit-hungry company spreading the good news of restructuring and relocation, without any guiding moral principle or code. In the 1990s, the firm promoted layoffs and the relocation of jobs abroad. In 2005, McKinsey advised Walmart, which was paying its employees such low wages that many of them were on welfare. A McKinsey-led task force recommended that in order to increase profitability, Walmart should increase the number of part-time employees and keep wages and health plan costs down. McKinsey also worked with opioid manufacturers. In August 2021 the company agreed to pay $641 million to settle legal claims for its role in the opioid crisis.

This is another aspect of Legault's so-called nationalism. Instead of relying on the expertise of Quebec civil servants and workers including those on the front lines -- not to mention the emergency plans put in place following other epidemics and the numerous recommendations of the Quebec coroner, the ombudsman and the many families of people who died in CHSLDs, the Legault government followed the orders of an American company whose expertise is first and foremost in attacking workers' rights and making money regardless of the consequences for the people. Meanwhile, the opposition in the National Assembly seems to have left it to Radio-Canada to get to the bottom of this fraud and what could even be called national treason.

Pierre Soublière is the PMLQ candidate in Chapleau.


1. "Le gouvernement Legault a eu des autorisations de déconfinement une semaine en avance," by Thomas Gerbert, Radio-Canada, June 19, 2020.  

2. "McKinsey Opened a Door in Its Firewall Between Pharma Clients and Regulators," by Chris Hamby, Walt Bogdanich, Michael Forsythe and Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, New York Times,  April 13, 2022.

3. "L'Ontario gère la pandémie de façon 'incohérente et désorganisée,' selon la VG," by Natasha MacDonald-Dupuis, Radio-Canada, November 25, 2020. 

This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 23 - October 2, 2022

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