Liberal-NDP Coalition Halts ArriveCan App Probe After 30 Minutes

Federal Auditor-General Karen Hogan announced the expansion of her ongoing investigation into the costly ArriveCan app, following new allegations of misconduct originally reported by The Globe and Mail.

Hogan expressed disappointment that government officials did not inform her of a related RCMP investigation, a fact she learned through media coverage.

The announcement came during an emergency meeting of the House of Commons public accounts committee, convened in response to The Globe’s report. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) had been alerted to allegations of improper contracting practices and close ties between public servants and private companies involved in the app’s development. The agency subsequently referred these allegations to the RCMP, which has initiated an investigation.

Hogan’s office will re-interview government officials and seek new witnesses as part of the expanded audit. Initially, the audit aimed to present its findings to Parliament before December. However, the timeline has been extended, with the report now expected in early 2024.

Conservative MP Larry Brock questioned the lack of communication from government officials about the RCMP investigation. Hogan confirmed that she learned of the RCMP’s involvement through The Globe and Mail, stating, “Management had not informed me that they had referred a contracting matter which involved many common players that we are looking at, to the RCMP.”

Check out her response in the video below:

The audit also involves officials from Public Services and Procurement Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The misconduct allegations were initially brought to the CBSA’s attention by Botler, a company that had worked on a pilot project related to detecting sexual harassment. This project was part of a larger $21.2-million contract that also funded work on the ArriveCan app.

The pilot project and ArriveCan involve three technology companies: GCStrategies, Dalian Enterprises, and Coradix. These companies have received significant federal funding over the years, with GCStrategies alone receiving $46 million since 2017. Both projects were overseen by some of the same senior public servants and involved layers of subcontracting that obscure key details.

Hogan stated that her office typically does not comment on ongoing audits but noted that The Globe’s report has led her team to revisit their investigation. “It has caused me as an auditor to ask my team to go back and make sure that we’ve covered off everything we should have,” she said.

The meeting was scheduled to last two hours but was cut short after about 40 minutes by a vote from Liberal and NDP MPs, with a vote of 6 to 4 in favour of adjourning the meeting.

Brock released a statement on Friday morning, saying, “The ArriveScam app is one of worst cases of wasteful spending in Canadian history. Not only did this fiasco waste $54 million in hard-earned Canadian tax dollars, but the RCMP has also declared that they are investigating criminality in the contracts that were awarded.”

“When $54 million goes out the door, and government officials can’t get their story straight about where it went, the least the Trudeau government can do is ask the Auditor General to update Canadians on where the money went,” said Brock.

“But when Conservatives asked the Auditor General to give evidence to the Public Accounts Committee, the Liberals and their NDP coalition partners voted to cover it up and shut it down. Just 30 minutes into a scheduled 2-hour meeting, the Liberal-NDP coalition made sure that Canadians would be kept in the dark,” he added.

Brock went on to say, “We now know that government officials lied before parliamentary hearings investigating the 54 million dollar app. We have serious allegations of fraudulent contract practices that are cause for grave concern. Yet despite the severity of the situation, the Liberal-NDP coalition has laughed in the face of potential criminal contracting practices.”

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