(This news story originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
Bank of Canada is not the only government agency using the services of Morneau Shepell, the Sun has learned.
At least four other federal departments and agencies have ongoing contracts with Morneau Shepell, the human resources firm formerly run by Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
The accumulated value of these various contracts is about $14 million.
A spokesperson from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) confirmed that it has eight different contracts with Morneau Shepell, with a total value of $2.3 million. The largest contracts are for employee assistance programs, providing benefits and workplace perks for CRA workers in Quebec, the Prairie Region and at CRA headquarters in Ottawa.
The dates on these contracts range from before Morneau became a cabinet minister, to as recently as June 2017.
The Sun has also learned that the Senate of Canada uses the services of Morneau Shepell, in a contract that was re-signed on Aug. 23, 2017.
News reports from March noted that Bill Morneau urged the Senate to pass his budget bill and suggested that the Senate had no business re-writing bills that were passed by the House. He personally met with senators to convince them not to change his budget bill.
Meanwhile, Morneau’s family firm signed a contract with the Senate valuing $89,100.
In addition to contracts with the Senate and CRA, Morneau Shepell also does work for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Canada Post.
According to a spokesman for CATSA, the agency has two contracts with Morneau Shepell, one covering pensions and benefits consulting and the other for an employee and family assistance program. The combined value of these contracts is $2.2 million.
CFIA’s spokesman confirmed it has $1.54 million in contracts with Morneau-Shepell, with a contract last signed in May 2017. The spokesman also acknowledged that the agency’s account executive was replaced in 2016.
Morneau admitted that he hadn’t sold his shares in his family company, nor had he placed them into a blind trust, but instead created a structure whereby his shares were placed into numbered companies that he or his wife controlled.
It’s believed Morneau earned at least $65,000 per month from a company that as finance minister he also regulates.
Following public outcry, Morneau finally agreed to divest his shares in Morneau Shepell last week.
As reported exclusively in the Toronto Sun, the Bank of Canada—which falls under the purview of the federal finance minister—has an $8 million contract with Morneau Shepell. That contract was renewed in February 2017, while Morneau was the finance minister and before he agreed to sell his shares.
The Sun has also learned that the contract with Bank of Canada was renewed without a public request for proposal (RFP). The Morneau Shepell contract is the largest contract that Bank of Canada has signed this year without an RFP, while a Bank of Canada spokesman told the Sun an RFP was not required in this case.
“I can say that the conflict-of- interest screens recommended by the ethics commissioner are in place and have been applied several times over the course of the last two years,” Morneau spokesman Daniel Lauzon told the Sun. “The screen protects against conflicts arising from dealings specifically with or related to Morneau Shepell, and each instance is reported directly to the ethics commissioner. Minister Morneau is, of course, not involved in day-to-day procurement decisions made across Government; decisions made according to strict procurement guidelines.”
Morneau has said he plans to sit down with the ethics commissioner on Thursday to further discuss how he can reassure Canadians on this matter.
As first reported in the Sun, more details also emerged about Morneau Shepell’s relationship with Bombardier — a Quebec aerospace company that is heavily subsidized by the Liberal government.
“If Bombardier is getting a forgivable loan, it’s going to help Bombardier out; if Morneau Shepell’s working for Bombardier, then it’s helping Morneau Shepell out,” said Nathan...(READ MORE)