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Ukraine has asked Canada to follow the lead of Britain and rush military supplies to the country’s army as it faces the growing possibility of Russian invasion.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, Olga Stefanishyna, said she had asked visiting Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly for Canada to provide Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal military gear, which she said was “essential” as Russia continued to accumulate forces around the country.

Ms. Joly said she had heard “loud and clear” the Ukrainian government’s requests for urgent help, and that she would take that message back to Ottawa. “Many of the officials here have reiterated this demand. We know that it is important to play our part. ... Therefore we are looking at options and will take a decision in a timely manner,” Ms. Joly told a joint news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday.

Senior International Correspondent Mark MacKinnon reports here.

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

INCREASING FEDERAL SPENDING FOR CONSULTING FIRM – The flow of tax dollars to global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has increased sharply as the Liberals have turned to the company for help with the struggling Phoenix pay system and other issues, a Globe and Mail analysis of federal outsourcing contracts shows. The former Conservative government did very little business with McKinsey during its final years in power, but after the Liberals formed government in 2015, spending on the firm’s services began to accelerate. The spending nearly doubled last year as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. Story here.

Reporter’s Comment, Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief Bill Curry, who co-authored two stories this week with Mahima Singh: “A huge amount of media attention is devoted each year to coverage of the federal budget, which is essentially a package of government promises of what’s to come in the year ahead. But relatively little attention is given to the public accounts, which are the hard numbers of what was actually spent.

“For this project, we went through the public accounts that were tabled in December and combined that data with figures from previous years to look for trends. The increased spending on federal outsourcing contracts stood out as one story.

“As McKinsey has frequently been in the news, we also took a closer look at the value and number of payments the consulting company had received. A clear upward trend line emerged when looking at the payments since 2015, when the Liberals formed government. The information in the public accounts is at a high level and requires more digging to understand what is taking place. For instance, the public accounts show that Public Services and Procurement Canada paid McKinsey $4.9-million in 2020-21 for ‘informatics services.’ No other detail was provided. By cross-referencing that information with the federal government’s contracting site and through inquiries with federal officials, we were able to confirm that this work was related to improving the problem-plagued Phoenix pay system. We also learned that the contract had just been amended in December, increasing its value substantially, to $27.7-million.

“The government’s contracting disclosure site, buyandsell.gc.ca, does include more forward-looking detail than the public accounts. However the final contracts are not proactively disclosed, nor are the listed amounts broken down by fiscal year, as is the case with the public accounts, which makes it challenging to tally up projected spending trends. The exercise certainly highlighted that there are many opportunities for Ottawa to improve public transparency when it comes to the disclosure of spending on contracts.”

ONTARIO EASING COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS: FORD – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province is set to make an announcement this week about reducing COVID-19 restrictions. He made his comments Tuesday in an interview on Ottawa radio station CFRA. Story here.

SINGH CONCERNED ABOUT CONSEQUENCES OF QUEBEC TAX ON THE UNVACCINATED – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Tuesday he is concerned about Quebec’s proposal to apply a tax to those who are unvaccinated, saying he believes it would undermine the universality of the health care system. Story here.

BARTON DIDN’T VIOLATE ETHICS RULES: DION – Federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion says Dominic Barton, Canada’s former ambassador to Beijing, did not violate ethics rules when he accepted an offer to chair Rio Tinto, a global mining company that does much of its business in China. Story here.

CHINA STEPS UP COERCION OF RESETTLED CITIZENS: REPORT – China has been expanding its use of coercion to force the return of Chinese citizens who have settled abroad, many of them in Australia, Canada and the United States, in a campaign targeting fugitives and dissidents, a new report by Spanish-based rights group Safeguard Defenders says.

ALBERTA JUSTICE MINISTER OUT AFTER POLICE CALL – Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has asked the provincial justice minister to “step back” after Kaycee Madu admitted he phoned Edmonton’s police chief after receiving a traffic ticket. Mr. Kenney says Sonya Savage, the Minister of Energy, will fill in for Mr. Madu while he takes a leave of absence. Story here.

SMARTPHONE APP RAISES CONCERNS – Security flaws in a smartphone application that’s required for athletes and team officials attending the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing leave users at risk of having their calls and data intercepted, a Toronto cybersecurity watchdog has found. Story here.

FEELING BETTER AFTER CANCER TREATMENT: B.C. PREMIER – British Columbia Premier John Horgan says he is “less robust” but he’s feeling better every day after completing 35 radiation sessions for throat cancer. Story here.

PARLIAMENT STAFFERS TOLD TO WORK FROM HOME AS COMMONS REOPENING LOOMS – As the House of Commons prepared to resume hybrid sittings at the end of the month, Parliament Hill staffers are being told to work from home whenever possible, as the Omicron wave has swept across Canada and squashed hopes of soon returning to work in-person. Story here from The Hill Times.

NO ORDER FOR FEDERAL PUBLIC SERVANTS TO RETURN TO WORK: FORTIER – Treasury Board president Mona Fortier says she won’t issue a blanket mandatory order for all federal departments to allow employees to work from home for the rest of the pandemic if their jobs can be done from home. In a letter to unions, Ms. Fortier said such a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work for some 100 departments and agencies. Story here from Policy Options.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons has adjourned until Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. ET.

NEW CANADIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER IN NIGERIA – James Christoff has been appointed high commissioner in Nigeria and permanent representative of Canada to the Economic Community of West African States, says Global Affairs Canada. Mr. Christoff, a former ambassador to South Sudan and senior public diplomacy officer in Kandahar, replaces Philip Baker.

THE DECIBEL – In Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Report on Business reporter and columnist Tim Kiladze explains what has led to substantial drops in the stock value of such companies as Zoom, Shopify Inc. and Peloton, often the darlings of retail investors, after the ground started to shift for them at the end of 2021. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh held a virtual news conference and then attended the first day of the NDP’s three-day virtual caucus retreat.

No schedules released for other party leaders.

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole keeps running, but it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere: ”In November, you could find criticisms of Mr. O’Toole’s postelection dodging of press questions in this column. But even now that he has made a habit of holding regular news conferences, albeit brief ones, it hasn’t made an impression on the most conservative parts of his party, and the most conservative pundits. They still complain Mr. O’Toole is invisible. He was out there on Monday. He answered a few questions. He took a line of attack to Mr. Trudeau, but mostly shielding himself. He has to keep running, but he doesn’t give the impression he’s going anywhere.”

David Collenette and Hugh Segal (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on not, in the context of Ukraine, forgetting what history teaches us about appeasement: “Many Canadians may ask why we should be preoccupied with the current events in Ukraine. The answer is clear. Previous events have demonstrated that when autocratic regimes trample on the rights of democracies without repercussion, they are emboldened to act on threats elsewhere. Whereas in 1939 those threats were contained initially to Europe, today, an aggressor’s reach can be global using conventional military force but also the modern weaponry of cyberwarfare.”

Donna Dasko (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on the numbers that show feminism is becoming mainstream: ”Gender-equality values have been embedded in our laws and constitution for decades, and in my estimation have clearly permeated our culture as well. Note the many companies using the theme of female empowerment to sell consumer products (Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign springs to mind), and the advent of concepts such as “lean in.” Still, these developments rarely challenge the status quo. The most likely driving force behind feminism today is the continuing strength of an organized and intersectional women’s movement that continues to bring uncomfortable and necessary issues to the forefront of our cultural conversations.”

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