I am sure most people were shocked, as was I, with the SNC Lavalin scandal that is unfolding before us. It is corruption to the core when political influence to change the rules is exerted in the name of saving political donors. In my opinion, this abhorrent abuse of power and must not be tolerated.
Why then are we allowing it to happen at the provincial level?! It doesn't seem to matter what party is in power but money seems to get you access to the Premier. The NDP governments of Romanow and Calvert put forward "most available hours". the Saskatchewan Party has done its fair share of work for its donors. Recent cases involving insurance companies seeking cash out limits for Universal Life policies and of course the much publicized Brandt developments in Wascana Park in Regina are examples. Clearly, the optics of big donor money may have played a role in some of these issues. Why then aren't we demanding some accountability here?!
Between 2007 and 2017 Saskatchewan tax credits issued for political donations was $45,216,377.63. In 2017 the Saskatchewan party received $1,797,426.24. and the NDP received $973,400.65. If we assumed the average total tax credit at 60% of total 2017 donations to those parties it would mean Saskatchewan taxpayers subsidized political donors to the tune of $1,662,496.14. It's a win-win for some donors wanting government business and political parties wanting cash. However, 2017 was a year where we saw tax increases and program cuts. Interestingly enough the political donor tax credit was not a casualty of these cuts.
Perhaps we need to rethink policy in this area. Why should a donor to a political party get a bigger tax credit than a donor to charity? In an era of economic struggle, why do political parties come out unscathed? When certain companies are in litigation how do they gain access to the Premier, changes to law or sweetheart deals merely by a petition from companies some of whom may be political donors?
If it’s wrong for Justin Trudeau why is it not wrong for Scott Moe or Ryan Meili? We really need to look at alternatives. Do we need to give a tax credit for political donations at all? Should it be the same as charitable donations? Should we just limit donation levels or do we ban any corporation who donates to a political party from bidding on government contracts? These are all worthy questions that should be considered. In the meantime its business as usual in the new Saskatchewan.
We can't wait for the change, we must create it!
Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan