MP Report: ArriveCan App Scandal

The Canadian government's mismanagement and spending of taxpayer dollars on the ArriveCan app (the app) has raised serious questions and concerns. The controversy centers around a contract awarded to a small IT firm of two people based in Ottawa, GC Strategies.

It’s been uncovered GC Strategies received at least $20 million to work on the app, with doubts they did any actual work on the app.  GC Strategies was also involved in writing the rules for the government contract they ended up getting.

The app, which was first planned to cost $80,000, ended up costing taxpayers at least $60 million with the total amount unknown. This is 750 times the original price. An audit from the independent Auditor General of Canada on this, criticized the federal government’s poor management on the ArriveCan app.

The Auditor General's report showed that while the cost of the app kept rising, they couldn't determine the exact total cost or where all the money went due to the lack of clear financial records.

Two federal officials suspended over ArriveCan, testified there was an active and coordinated coverup of the paper trail and records. One unbelievable example alleges the government’s Chief Technology Officer deleted tens of thousands of emails related to the app during his employment at the Canada Border Services Agency.

Government officials apparently received Amazon-sponsored “ArriveCan bags” with Amazon receiving $8 million on the ArriveCan project. In addition, federal government officials were invited to whiskey tastings and other luxurious treats from contractors hired to do work on the app.

Canada's Procurement Watchdog revealed that 76% of the subcontractors involved in the ArriveCan app did not perform any work on the app.

Canada’s Information Watchdog is now investigating the ArriveCan app.

The RCMP is also looking into claims of corruption related to the contracts for the app and for what government officials called “sufficient suspicion” of criminal wrongdoing and a broad coverup.

The owners of GC Strategies have not cooperated with the investigation and ignored two legal summons to appear before the ethics committee. This refusal prompted Conservative Members of Parliament (MP) to take strong actions utilizing the full force of Parliament’s constitutional powers and authorities by getting a motion passed forcing the owners of GC Strategies to appear at committee within 21 days or face arrest by the Sergeant-at-Arms, the top security official of the House of Commons. This is in spite of government MP’s attempting to delay the investigation along the way through days of filibustering.

In situations like this, where there is a lack of clear accountability, Canadians naturally start to lose faith in the federal government's competence and intentions. It becomes hard for the public to trust that their tax dollars are being spent wisely. The federal government's role includes managing public resources responsibly and ensuring projects are completed efficiently and effectively.

Canadians expect the federal government to use their tax money wisely, responsibly, with integrity, accountability and transparency.  Canada’s Conservatives will continue to press on getting to the bottom of this issue as well as on other government expenditures, particularly with the utilization of external contractors.  

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