, 04.12.2018 08:50 AM

$2,119 an hour. And you are paying it.

Snippet from next week’s Hill Times column, based on the intrepid reporting of CFRA’s Brian Lilley:

The dirty little contract was discovered by Brian Lilley of Ottawa’s CFRA.  Reports Lilley: “It’s a staggering amount for a contract that only lasts 8 months. The law firm McCarthy Tetrault is being paid $5,320,766.60 in a sole sourced contract. A contract worth almost 10 per cent of the inquiry’s $54 million budget,” he writes. 

“What is the work for? Well at this point, that is unknown. Despite phone calls and multiple emails, my simple questions to the inquiry have gone unanswered. Given all the coverage of problems at the inquiry, a contract like this should raise questions and those questions should be answered.”

The clandestine contract was to run from September 6, 2017 and end on May 15, 2018.  It wasn’t put up for competition because, Lilley reported, it supposedly related to “Consulting Services Regarding Matters of a Confidential Nature.”

A confidential nature.

As such, we still don’t really know why McCarthy Tetrault was handed this sole-sourced, “confidential” sweetheart deal.  We do know, however, the math about the cost.  Lilley worked it out.  “[The] $5.3 million fee is for a contract that lasts just 251 days. That works out to $21,198.27 for each day of the contract. If we assumed a 10-hour work day, that would mean McCarthy’s is billing out at $2,119 per hour.”

Read that again: $2,119 an hour.  Considering that the standard rate is $235 an hour, this contract verges on criminality. 

16 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    I’m told this law firm has some pretty stron connections with “several people in the current Liberal regime in Ottawa”

    They are active political donors too. According to the National Post’s new searchable donor tool (this was sent to me from a friend):

    Liberal Party: $750,817 ($78,723.99 in 2015, 2016, 2017)
    Conservative Party: $482,832 ($66,810.95 in 2015, 2016, 2017)
    New Democratic Party: $38,145
    Green Party: $9,860
    Reform: $11,600
    Bloc : $9,364
    Party Quebecois: $7,490
    Wildrose Party: $5,250
    other: ~$204,500

    No wonder the MMIWG Inquiry head said they need an extension and more money. Lots more Liberal friendly pockets to fill.

  2. JH says:

    Is anybody really surprised? Many of us said long ago this would be a horn of plenty for lawyers, consultants and various hangers on. Likewise that there was no need for it, as millions of trees have already been destroyed to provide paper for copies of the numerous past royal commissions on the topic. Those reports now sit on dusty shelves in Ottawa and read only by historical scholars.
    Digging them all out, simply changing the title and providing a summary of their contents would yield the same results as we have to date and for a lot less taxpayer money. I’m sure WK knows this full well, through his involvement with both FNs & previous governments. This is simply another Trudeau promise, made without serious consideration, at a time when he was polishing his image. Now it’s gotten away from him and no doubt there’s still more spit coming to hit that proverbial fan.

  3. Robert White says:

    The only work I have ever received in my lifetime was all contract work for a few dollars over minimum wage, and I was a private contractor with no benefits.

    Today, I am literally unemployable due to poverty, and the inability to afford dentures so I can apply for work. I have a college diploma & a university degree too.

    The elite 1% parasites doing the backstroke in the public trough are in a race to the bottom financially & ethically IMHO.

    Steven Harper started politics with nothing and walked away from politics with $5 million CDN for destroying the federal Progressive Conservative Party, and instituting Reform-in-Pantyhose Conservativism across CANADA.

    Both politicians & BIG law have taken the life out of Canadians en masse. They are planning on war to cover it all up.

    RW

  4. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    As they constantly repeat at any and every meeting of the Bar, we are proud to be lawyers!

  5. Gord says:

    Without knowing what the contract was specifically for or the work that was done, it’s hard to say whether the hourly rate is unreasonable or not. For starters, I suspect there was more than one lawyer involved. While $235/hour might be the going rate on Bay Street for a first-year associate (more likely an articled student), anyone with any kind of seniority will be charging upwards of $500/hour.

    The real question I have is whether they needed to go hire one of Canada’s largest blue-chip firms, or whether they could have hired a smaller, but equally-well-qualified Aboriginal or administrative law boutique that could have done the job for less. Again, it would be helpful to know what the contract was for and what work was done.

    • Warren says:

      Really? I was a partner at a Bay Street law firm and was paid $235 an hour by DIAND – the maximum DOJ tariff. So, you don’t know what you are talking about.

      • Gord says:

        For DOJ agency work, the tariff currently goes up to $350/hr depending on seniority. Again, without knowing the nature of the work to be performed, we don’t know if this was even a DOJ agency engagement. Even if it was, DOJ’s own guidelines state that their tariff is just that, a guideline, and remuneration is established in each case.

        Not disagreeing with you that it seems high at first blush, but it’s hard to draw conclusions without knowing more about the work.

        • Matt says:

          If my quick math is correct (and with me, that’s a big if) using Lilley’s figures and your inflated rate, at $350 an hour, $2119/h amounts to 6 lawyers working 10 hours a day for the entire 251 day duration of the contract.

          WTF are they doing for the MMIWG inquiry that would require that?

  6. billg says:

    Its a disgrace. The entire MMIWG was and is a political smoke screen, a contrived and calculated pissing away of good money to look good, and you guys called Harper cynical.
    Here’s a better question, how did Brian Lilley with his entourage of zero interns scoop this story, how could this possibly escape the 6 people to a news van CBC?
    And, I wonder if the election campaign ad has been produced yet by the Conservatives, you know, the one where the Veteran with one leg asks the PM where his help is and the PM answers “we just don’t have the money”.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      billg,

      Correct me if I’m wrong but last time I checked Harper and Trudeau were on the same page on lifetime disability pensions for veterans. I’ll give you a hint: it ain’t good…

      • billg says:

        Other then partisan nonsense, what exactly does your comment have to do with an upcoming election campaign that Mr Harper will not be part of.

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:

          billg,

          It means that Conservatives can’t go too far off that tree limb because in essence, they had, under Harper, the same regrettable and hypocritcal position that the Liberals have now. Let me know if Scheer has changed that. Thanks.

          • billg says:

            You think voters care what did or didn’t happen 6 years ago with Stephen Harpers government, and do you actually think the Conservatives wont go too far off that tree limb in its ad about the ad Vet missing a leg being told there’s just not enough money for him? Beside the ad with Vet will be a list of the trip to the Aga Khan’s pretty island, the trip to India, the costs of flying a personal chef to India, etc etc. All political ads are hypocritical, the good ones make you forget all about how the other side was just as bad. It may be the same regrettable and hypocritical position as the Liberals have taken, but, I cant honestly remembering Stephen Harper standing up and writing a Liberal attack ad by telling a Vet “we just don’t have the money”. You all have the money, you just don’t have the will.

  7. The Doctor says:

    Those of us who are lawyers could see this financial gong show coming from miles away. This is hardly the first time that some public inquiry has turned into a ridiculous billing fest (see Martel inquiry in Ontario many years ago, where after the fact all kinds of stories came out in the media and everyone was shocked and appalled at the legal costs). Yet those of us who were (correctly) warning about this during the last election campaign were accused of being racist, insensitive, blah blah blah because we weren’t in favour of writing this obvious huge blank cheque.

    The problem with these government inquiries is that they don’t have the cost discipline and controls that private sector initiatives have. For some reason the government is expected to just foot the bill and not ask any questions about the bills being submitted. I remember many years ago when my Dad went from decades in the private sector to a high-profile position in the public sector, and the poor guy just about had a heart attack over the lack of cost control.

    • Fred from BC says:

      ” Yet those of us who were (correctly) warning about this during the last election campaign were accused of being racist, insensitive, blah blah blah because we weren’t in favour of writing this obvious huge blank cheque.”

      That has always been the reaction of those who stand to profit the most from something like this. Playing the race card has worked well for them in the past, but those days are gone now, thankfully.

      Just think about what all that wasted money could have accomplished had they chosen to spend it on something productive rather than political…

  8. John says:

    What this donation list suggests is that it is spread all around and the worst part suggests that the overspending is the biggest problem. The connection with the Liberals is huge, but as Kinsella said on Adler’s radio program the bureaucrats with the MMIWG spent the money. Kinsella believes this resembles Adscam but even the Conservatives had larger scandals like Mastrogate, Penashuegate in that recall election, Duffygate, the Adgate for the Conservatives by their ad spending on their signs, and there are many to list.

    Lilley feels he has a whopper but I beg to differ. It only appears shady because of the description on the government page.

    The other important part that Kinsella forgets is that within a year such services are done by the agency and therefore spread around. This is also indirectly from the Liberal party and the Government of Canada, so I don’t see wrongdoing. Also, the Conservatives did far worse.

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