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Thank goodness the Commons committee on government operations called for yet another investigation into ArriveCan. Heaven knows the committee’s own hearings are going around in circles.

On Thursday, the committee heard again from two senior officials who have been suspended without pay, Cameron MacDonald and Anthony Utano, who told the committee they were being scapegoated while their former bosses at the Canada Border Services Agency are engaged in a cover-up.

It wasn’t all that different from what the same pair told the committee in November, when they said they were being scapegoated and that their former boss, Minh Doan, had lied to the committee – except now they’ve been suspended, are suing the CBSA to quash the preliminary report from an internal investigator and are alleging an even bigger cover-up.

The whodunnit is still a whodunnit, so it’s a good thing that the committee, at the urging of Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, asked the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner to look into which public servant is lying about which.

The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner probably isn’t going to get to tell us who chose GC Strategies, the two-person company that was paid millions of dollars to hire subcontractors for the work and charged commissions of 15 to 30 per cent. But at least she might make some progress.

There has already been a report by the Procurement Ombud and the Auditor-General of Canada. There is an internal investigation and an RCMP investigation into another CBSA project that involved a lot of the same people.

If there are other investigators to line up, maybe we should get them started.

Because if you watched the hours and hours of MPs’ hearings on ArriveCan held over the last week, you know they’re not getting to the bottom of it.

That’s not to say the past hearings had no merit. The government operations committee has done important work in popping open a messy misuse of funds to public scrutiny and hearing key witnesses.

But getting to the bottom of things is now obviously beyond their ken. This bunch isn’t going to find the truth. Often, they aren’t really trying.

You’d expect that at Thursday’s hearing, MPs would have been keen to follow up any thread from the report that Auditor-General Karen Hogan issued last week, which found a “glaring disregard for basic management practices.”

She found an appalling lack of records and lack of information about who made each decision, or the decision to hire GC Strategies, but highlighted that they identified the person who signed the first requisition for the contract – and that she would expect that person to be accountable for the project.

That person was Mr. Utano, but MPs at the committee didn’t press further when Mr. Utano downplayed the requisition as just a first step, not a contract, and said he signed it after his superiors chose GC Strategies.

Ms. Hogan had found that when CBSA finally started a competition for a new contract in 2022, they let GC Strategies help set the requirements, which were so narrow that only GC Strategies bid on it.

Only one MP, Kelly Block, asked whether Mr. Utano was involved in that, and when he said no, that it was done by a separate team, she cut him off before asking who was involved. Someone let a supplier stack a competition for a $25-million contract, and the MPs weren’t very curious.

Instead, they were off on their own agendas.

Liberal MPs asked Mr. MacDonald on two separate occasions to deny Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s assertion that the initial budget for the app was $80,000 – which of course he did, as he and several other officials have done before.

Conservative MPs asked the pair in several different ways to say that they had seen interference by politicians, and when they didn’t do that, Conservative MP Larry Brock just said there was, anyway.

There was preening, and speechifying and evidence-free assertions. But only a few MPs who bothered, occasionally, to follow the threads from previous reports in an attempt to find out what really happened.

So, send in the Integrity Commissioner. Send in other investigators, if there are any who can help. At this point, the MPs are going around in circles.

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