Recent revelations showing that McKinsey, one of the world’s largest consulting firms, helped determine the essential elements of the Quebec government’s disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic provide a graphic illustration of the dictatorship that the large corporations exert on society.
In his interactions with the government of François Legault, McKinsey laid out the principles that have guided Quebec’s COVID policy: the priority given to corporate profits over public health; the exclusive reliance on vaccines instead of a comprehensive strategy to eliminate the virus, including mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine; and the premature and hasty reopening of schools and non-essential industries to bail out financial markets and investors.
The toll of this criminal policy, fully endorsed by Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberal government, is nearly 17,000 official COVID-related deaths in Quebec and nearly 46,000 nationally, almost all preventable, not to mention of the 20 million victims of the pandemic worldwide.
McKinsey is a US-based company with 30,000 consultants and support staff in 130 offices in 65 countries and annual revenue of $10 billion. Associates of the consulting firm become senior government officials or rise to leadership positions in the world’s largest corporations. This is the case of Dominic Barton, who rose from the highest room on the McKinsey board of directors to head the Canadian embassy in China and is now chairman of the board of Rio Tinto. McKinsey charges governments and corporations exorbitant fees for “strategic management” advice that leads to the privatization of public services and brutal attacks on the working class.
Working with the most predatory corporations and reactionary governments, McKinsey has been embroiled in a number of scandals. She advised cigarette manufacturers as they knowingly developed a more addictive product. He was working with Purdue Pharma to develop his ultra-aggressive sales techniques for Oxycontin, the painkiller that caused the opioid crisis in the United States (in 2021, McKinsey agreed to pay 600 million dollars to the States Americans for its role in the crisis). And he supported the US Border Patrol as Trump implemented his brutal anti-immigrant measures.
On September 30, days before the October 3 Quebec election, Radio-Canada revealed that the right-wing Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government led by Legault had paid McKinsey more than $6.5 million for services consultations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under two non-tender contracts signed on April 2, 2020 and July 28, 2021, the firm played a key role in managing the pandemic in Quebec. He advised the Legault government and Quebec Public Health on communications, the purchase of protective equipment, screening strategies and staff shortages in residential and long-term care centers (CHSLDs).
For a few days, the media and the political establishment made much of the most obvious aspects of the government’s incestuous relationship with McKinsey: the company’s $35,000 daily fee, its access to confidential information, its preparation of Quebec government letterhead documents, his failure to disclose his conflicts of interest regarding the Pfizer vaccine while working for the pharmaceutical giant, and the Legault government’s general lack of transparency about McKinsey’s role.
These criticisms were superficial and hypocritical. Conservative Party of Quebec leader Éric Duhaime, a man close to anti-vaccine circles who backed the far-right ‘Liberté’ convoy, criticized Legault from the right and called for an independent public inquiry into the dispute interests with Pfizer, no doubt hoping to use the opportunity to tackle the proven benefits of vaccines. The leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Dominique Anglade, supported this request for an investigation, relating to the sums of public money paid to McKinsey, a criticism not very credible on the part of this multimillionaire who herself was at the McKinsey job from 2007 to 2012 advising “big business executives”. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of Quebec solidaire, the pseudo-left party in Quebec, criticized McKinsey’s intervention from the perspective of Quebec nationalism, lamenting that the Legault government listened to an “international firm” rather than “Quebecers”. ground “. .”
These criticisms were intended to obscure the most important point that emerged from these revelations. Namely that the mandates entrusted to McKinsey, when Quebec was in the early stages of the pandemic, aimed to ensure a rapid end to the anti-COVID containment measures and the reopening of the economy.
On April 2, 2020, the day the Legault government signed an agreement with McKinsey to “implement a methodology to operationalize decisions surrounding the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic mitigation measures”, dozens of seniors died every day in CHSLDs. long-term care homes) and the province had one of the highest death rates in the world.
On April 22, McKinsey published a plan drawn up with the Direction de la Santé Publique (DSP) which presented the reopening of schools as “doable” and recommended, in order to make this deadly idea accepted, a “specific communication strategy on children”. and the resumption of school and nurseries” which would call on “influential health actors” such as paediatricians. Later in the day, Legault announced that a plan would soon be presented for the reopening of schools in Quebec. The following day (April 23), the Association des pédiatres du Québec published an open letter stating that “the gradual return to real life [i.e., the reopening of schools and daycares] for our children is not only desirable, it is necessary.
The documents obtained by Radio-Canada reveal a host of other examples of convergence between the “advice” provided by McKinsey behind the backs of the population and the “decisions” of the CAQ. From the first weeks of the pandemic, the consulting firm was directing the Legault government towards the policy favored by big business and the political establishment: reopening the economy and putting profits before human lives. This criminal policy would be brutally implemented by a right-wing CAQ government that boasts of its pro-investor policies.
McKinsey has played a major role in the management of the pandemic by a large number of Western governments, whether in Europe (Germany, France and Great Britain), in the United States where McKinsey has advised the federal government as well as many States and major cities, in Canada (Quebec and Ontario) or in Mexico. There is no doubt that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that McKinsey’s dealings with other world governments are being kept secret.
In several cases, questionable or downright illegal practices were exposed, particularly in Ontario and France. But beyond the stench of corruption and fraud in every individual relationship, what they have in common is the implementation of the same murderous policy of prioritizing corporate profits over human lives.
McKinsey also published reports throughout the pandemic that sought to portray the hasty reopening of the economy and the refusal to adopt a Zero Covid elimination strategy based on public health standards long proven to be reasonable, even scientists. The article, “Endemic pandemic: how the world can learn to live with COVID-19”, published in October 2021, suggested that the cost of health measures needed to stop the spread of the disease was too high, that “the most societies… will have to learn to live with COVID-19,” and that it should be accepted as “a continuing part of the infectious disease landscape, or endemic, like tuberculosis is today.”
In another June 2022 report titled “When will the COVID-19 pandemic end?”, McKinsey attempts to make credible the blatant lies of the ruling class, including that the virus has become “endemic”, that new variants are “mild,” and that the disease has become less deadly and can be contained by a strategy based solely on vaccines and other drugs like Paxlovid.
Inserting itself into governments to dictate the pandemic policy desired by big business and giving it a veneer of legitimacy in its publications, McKinsey has spearheaded the capitalist ruling class’ offensive to keep corporations functioning. businesses at full capacity during the pandemic, regardless of the cost in human resources. Lives.
McKinsey’s real crime is not advocating the use of life-saving vaccines in a conflict of interest or charging $35,000 a day in fees. Rather, it is his role in social murder – in crafting and implementing the pandemic policies of Quebec and other capitalist governments that have flouted science-based public health measures and thus inevitably led to successive waves of massive infections and deaths that claimed the lives of millions of people. .
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