MPs were informed by a deputy minister that the Liberal government’s chief technology officer Minh Doan misled parliament during a committee testimony about the selection of GCStrategies in the bidding process to build the ArriveCan app.
On Tuesday, hearings were held by the Commons government operations committee to examine how the failed ArriveCan app ended up costing taxpayers over $54 million.
Health Canada’s assistant deputy minister Cameron MacDonald testified before the committee that he had a heated argument with then-Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) vice president Doan in the month of October, 2022.
At the time, Macdonald was director-general at the agency and Doan was his superior.
“I felt incredibly threatened on that phone call with Minh Doan,” MacDonald told MPs.
He also discussed the anger of former public safety minister Marco Mendicino who allegedly wanted “somebody’s head on a platter” regarding the bad publicity the app received.
“He just said: ‘You know, Cam, if I have to, I’m going to tell the committee that it was you,’” MacDonald told MPs. “To which I said, if you do that, I will have to respond. And we ended the conversation.”
MacDonald then testified that he had advised Doan to hire Deloitee to create the app but that Doan told him it was not possible because then-CBSA president John Ossowski said “no one can work with Deloitte” due to a separate IT project that went wrong.
On Oct. 24, 2023, Doan testified before the same committee saying, “I was not personally involved in that decision” while discussing who selected GCStrategies for the role.
Instead, Doan said that it was his “team” who was responsible for the decision, according to the Globe and Mail.
MacDonald was then asked by Bloc Québécois MP Julie Vignola if Doan had presented MPs with false evidence during his Oct. 24 testimony, to which he replied, “It was a lie that was told to this committee. Everyone knows it,” said MacDonald.
“We have our team here behind us. Everyone knew it was his decision to make. It wasn’t mine.”
“In terms of nefarious activities, and some of the things that have been suggested at this committee, I have never seen that in my entire life,” said MacDonald.
Prior to Tuesday’s hearing, the CBSA announced that it would suspend all agency contracts with three separate IT firms, all of which are the subject of complaints around contracting misconduct.
This is a developing story.