MPs Summons Contractors and Officials Amid RCMP Probe into ArriveCan App
Members of Parliament voted unanimously on Tuesday to summon private contractors, senior government officials, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for questioning over the ArriveCan app, reports the Globe and Mail.
The decision by the government operations committee comes in response to a Globe and Mail report indicating that the RCMP is investigating alleged misconduct involving three private contractors—GCStrategies, Dalian Enterprises, and Coradix—in their dealings with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
The allegations were initially reported to the CBSA by Ritika Dutt and Amir Morv, co-founders of Botler, a company that had been contracted to support victims of sexual harassment. Botler raised concerns about improper relationships between government officials and private consultants. The company was directed to work with GCStrategies by then-Director-General of CBSA, Cameron MacDonald, rather than securing a direct contract with the agency.
Upon approval of a pilot project, Botler discovered that the main contract was awarded to Dalian Enterprises, a company they were unfamiliar with, and was subcontracted to GCStrategies. Both companies proposed to collect significant commissions. Botler later found that Coradix had submitted invoices to the CBSA that included their personal information without consent and inflated their work experience.
The Botler project and the ArriveCan app, which is also under scrutiny, involve the same three technology companies and were overseen by some of the same senior public servants. Both projects were part of a larger $21.2-million general services contract.
“Now we have allegations of identity theft, forged résumés, contractual theft, fraudulent billing, price fixing and collusion, all with senior bureaucrats and three contractors,” said Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie, who initiated the motion. The motion received bipartisan support and calls for four public meetings to hear from individuals identified in the Globe report.
The RCMP is also expected to brief the committee, which had been close to concluding its study on the ArriveCan app. Federal Auditor-General Karen Hogan announced an expansion of her investigation into the app’s spending following the new allegations.
Last fall, the House of Commons voted 174 to 149 in favour of auditing the ArriveCan app’s spending, which is reported to exceed $54 million, despite starting out with a budget of $80,000.
Liberal MP Majid Jowhari expressed concerns that the ongoing police investigation might limit the forthcomingness of witnesses. “I’m not sure at this point, if we move this to a priority for the committee, what we are going to get out of it if that’s the line that’s going to be used,” he stated.