Canadian Government Ad Contracts: Mounties Called In

14 May 2002

Ever eager to live up their mythical motto, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are determined to get their [ad]man or whichever other miscreant has “broken every rule in the book” over the award of government advertising business.

The RCMP has been called in by the nation’s auditor general Sheila Fraser to investigate “an appalling lack of documentation” surrounding three advertising contracts worth an aggregated $C1 million plus.

All three contracts were placed with Groupaction, a Montreal-based shop with non-equity links to WPP Group’s J Walter Thompson – although the latter is at pains to emphasise that it has never been involved in work for the Canadian government. Groupaction is also a donor to the ruling Liberal Party, having contributed some $C44,000 ($US28,282; €31,036; £19,416) to its funds.

But no accusations have yet been levelled either at government members or Groupaction. Instead, the auditor general’s preliminary findings slam civil servants whose documentation was so poor that she has instigated a value-for-money audit of all government advertising and sponsorship programs worth $C25.5 million and above annually. The results of this sweeping survey are due late next year.

Meantime, the Mounties will probe the three Groupaction contracts, each of which was sanctioned by former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, now ambassador to Denmark, and signed by quondam adman Chuck Guite, then executive director of the government’s Communications Coordination Service Branch.

In a detailed public statement, Groupaction claims: “Our company was unfairly attacked in a partisan political debate that has violated our rights and undermined our reputation. We chose to establish our position by collaborating entirely and voluntarily with the representatives of the Auditor General of Canada.”

The statement continues: “Groupaction has provided appropriate and adequate services corresponding to the communications objectives outlined in contracts awarded to the agency by the Government of Canada. The results are conclusive.”

The agency adds that on the advice of lawyers, it will grant no interviews regarding its current role central to a Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff