As some of you will be aware, I had the honour of hosting a news conference as the Leader of the PC Party on the steps of the Legislature last week. Because the PC Party does not currently have members in the Legislature, we are not allowed to go inside the “people’s parliament” and talk to members of the media. We are considered “a security risk”. Of course this meant that the government’s ministerial assistants then had to come outside to listen to my news conference and then go back inside to report to the powers that be.
Fortunately Mother Nature smiled on us and Dale Burnay (our new Executive Director) and I were able to hold a ½ hour chat with various members of the media about the state of farmland ownership in Saskatchewan. After waiting patiently for 3 months for the Farm Land Security Board to release its legal opinions for why it has allowed over 700 quarters of Saskatchewan’s prime farmland to be sold to the Canada Pension Plan, the PC Party of Saskatchewan has demanded that all relevant information be released and that an independent inquiry be made as to the legality of this transaction. By their silence, the Board is indicating that it agrees with this transaction but has not released any information that would substantiate this attitude which I believe is totally improper and contrary to the Act. The public has the absolute right to know the reasons that the Board is granting this deal.
In our view, the CPP is simply a sovereign wealth fund and if that is the case, it opens the door to many other such entities to begin gobbling up Saskatchewan’s greatest resource – our land. Sovereign wealth funds are not allowed under the current Act to own Saskatchewan farmland. The PC Party of Saskatchewan has requested the appointment of an independent investigator with the power of a Commissioner under The Public Inquiries Act. This Commissioner would ensure that all relevant information be made available and also would help get to the jurisdictional questions which have arisen from this transaction. Under the old NDP Land Bank, at least there was an appeals procedure which allowed Saskatchewan citizens to take their concerns up the ladder and ultimately to the Legislative Assembly where a Minister was responsible. Because the CPP is a Federal entity, the province of Saskatchewan may not have jurisdiction over these lands or the Saskatchewan company that sold the land in the first place and continues to manage it for the CPP.
The PC Party of Saskatchewan fought the NDP-imposed Land Bank in the 1970’s and 1980’s and abolished it while in government in the 1980’s because we believed Saskatchewan farm and ranch families should not be competing against their own tax dollars. This new assault on Saskatchewan farmland is no different in our view. We will have our people competing against their own pension funds as they try to build their operations and make a living for themselves and their families.
If the Sask Party government of Saskatchewan, who have backed this deal at the highest levels are so confident in their reasoning, then why haven’t they released the relevant legal opinions, documentation and evidence that proves this deal to be a good one? Surely to goodness the Sask Party government will want to have their ducks lined up if the Quebec Pension Plan comes calling or any of the other numerous land companies which have sprung up in the last few years want to “flip” their portfolios into so-called Canadian pension funds or sovereign wealth funds.
I can assure you that the PC Party of Saskatchewan will continue to push this file until the public has all of the information because whether you are rural or urban, this matter of who controls our land resource is of the utmost importance as we look forward to growing crops and feeding the world.
Your feedback is welcome on anything you see in the Monday Morning Commentary. Please send your comments to contact @pcsask.ca. If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address. Also – don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.