MPs investigating the $54 million ArriveCan project tomorrow will question an Ottawa insider who reportedly boasted he “rubbed shoulders with every assistant deputy minister in town.” The Commons government operations committee to date has been unable to find who approved sweetheart contracts that paid millions to federal consultants.
“It should be evident to everyone in this room as well as Canadians there is systemic corruption within this government,” Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie (Calgary Midnapore) told an October 26 committee hearing. “It should be absolutely evident.”
Consultant Vaughn Brennan was named as a reluctant witness who ignored initial requests that he appear for questioning. Brennan is scheduled to appear tomorrow at the government operations committee at 12 noon Eastern. Subcontractors earlier named Brennan “as a self-styled political insider.”
Witnesses testified Brennan reportedly “rubbed shoulders with every assistant deputy minister in town” and considered $23 million on a sole-sourced contract “a drop in the bucket.” Brennan has never spoken publicly. He is confirmed to have worked with an ArriveCan consultant GC Strategies Incorporated of Woodlawn, Ont.
Brennan had “declined” to testify, Conservative MP Kelly McCauley (Edmonton West), chair of the government operations committee, earlier told MPs. “GC Strategies is playing hard to get,” said McCauley. “That would be a polite way of saying it. We have not been able to get a commitment from them despite our clerk going above and beyond in trying to accommodate them. We’re having difficulties with them.”
GC Strategies, a two-man company operating from a private home, received an $8.9 million sole-sourced contract to work on the ArriveCan project. Evidence showed GC Strategies pocketed an undisclosed commission worth up to 30 percent or $2.7 million then assigned all work to subcontractors.
“It is a two-person company that works out of their basement who did no IT work whatsoever but simply did a Google search and found IT professionals,” Conservative MP Larry Brock (Brantford-Brant, Ont.) told a November 28 hearing.
MPs have been unable to find which federal manager asked GC Strategies to submit a contract proposal for ArriveCan, a pandemic-era app that required cross-border travelers to submit electronic proof of vaccination prior to arrival in Canada. “Nobody wants to take responsibility,” Conservative MP Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.) told a November 28 hearing.
MPs were told a GC Strategies executive “routinely boasted he and his friends, senior government officials with contracting authority, have ‘dirt on each other.’” There was no explanation. GC Strategies received some $44 million in federal contracts since 2022, according to records.