The Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, came to the defense of a contract granted to the firm McKinsey by his ministry shortly after having entrusted a mandate apparently similar to the firm KPMG.

The minister was questioned by the opposition, in a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, on the awarding of a contract to the firm McKinsey following a report by Radio-Canada.

The Ministry of the Economy awarded a contract to the firm McKinsey in July 2021 to review government initiatives to stimulate economic growth in Quebec.

However, Quebec had asked the firm KPMG five months earlier to “determine the objectives targeted by the post-pandemic recovery efforts”. The two firms had bid on the same call for tenders for the first study. A few months later, McKinsey obtained the second mandate by mutual agreement.

Questioned by the opposition, the minister replied that the government had not entrusted the same mandate to two different firms. “First, they are two completely different mandates. »

The mandate of KPMG would have been granted to look at the revival of certain industrial sectors, specified the minister. For the second mandate, the ministry had identified certain possible interventions in connection with the innovation zones. McKinsey was reportedly asked to “tag” the department’s information with the external firm’s knowledge of the international context.

The Minister was also asked if he was satisfied with the KPMG study or if the request to McKinsey reflected dissatisfaction with the first study. “Look, it gave us some benchmarks for a revival of certain sectors,” he replied.

Using outside firms allows the ministry to validate the assumptions of its teams and obtain additional information, according to Mr. Fitzgibbon. “We wanted to be sure not to make mistakes, because there is a lot of money that we will invest in the innovation zones. »

He also defended the decision to award the contract to McKinsey by mutual agreement without going through a call for tenders. “We wanted to be efficient and we could do it over the counter. We followed all the rules. »

The minister said he was not going to release the two reports “for two reasons.” “Consultant opinions are never made public. […]. Second, there are certain things in the reports that the government uses for decision-making. In these cases, the reports are not (made public). »

In a tense exchange with the minister, the leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, deplored that the confidentiality of the studies prevents verifying whether they were different, as Mr. Fitzgibbon asserts.

The answer also made the Liberal critic for the economy, Frédéric Beauchemin, react. He pointed out that the Legault government had already made public reports from external firms. ” It is a question of will. If you want to make it public, you can. »

Mr. Beauchemin believes that this way of proceeding “gives the impression” that the government chooses to make public reports which are favorable to him and affixes the seal of secrecy on studies which could emit conclusions which would give him less good press.