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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

As hard as the Wall government tries to sweep the GTH land deal under the carpet, it simply won't stay hidden.

Yesterday the CBC i-Team revealed more damning evidence about the mismanagement of taxpayer's money surrounding 204 acres on the west side of Regina. The entire article can be viewed at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/gth-land-deal-bill-boyd-never-heard-of-1.3800855.

At the very beginning of the revelations about the GTH land deal, the PC Party called for a judicial inquiry so that all matters - financial and personal - could be looked at. Long experience told me that going to the Provincial Auditor, for instance, would not get the information necessary to determine who and why this piece of land was so concerning to then-Minister Bill Boyd and the Sask Party cabinet.

The Provincial Auditor would not be able to do a forensic audit and would only be able to follow her mandate which is really a process audit of financial transactions by the government of Saskatchewan. Our call for a judicial inquiry was ignored by the government and the NDP opposition who went along with the "look-see" by the Provincial Auditor.

The revelations in the CBC story of yesterday which talks about phone calls to Minister Boyd way back in 2012 from an unknown individual - an individual that Mr. Boyd will not name - and the fact that he tried to push a cabinet decision item through the Sask Party cabinet without revealing the name cries out for a judicial inquiry.

The CBC story indicates that both of the previous landowners - the McNally sisters and an order of nuns - the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions - indicated the only person with the ability to offer the land for sale to the Minister would have been Robert Tappauf as he held the options on their land. This is the same Alberta businessman who owns 100,000 acres of farmland in Alberta and Saskatchewan and has had extensive business relationships with Mr. Boyd's farming operations in the Eston/Kindersley area.

I think it is high time that the RCMP who are investigating this land transaction get their hands on phone records to verify exactly who made that phone call. The fact that this land drew the attention of the Sask Party cabinet not once but twice means that everyone at that cabinet table was aware of something being out of whack on this transaction in my view.

When an item is brought into cabinet as a walk-in, that is unusual. And then to have the item pulled at the very last minute is doubly unusual. To have the same item re-appear a year later only this time costing over $5 million more than it did the first time, should have made any responsible cabinet minister wonder what the heck was going on. Spending $21 million for 204 acres is an unusual item.

If the Sask Party government has nothing to hide, our Department of Justice should be asking the government of Alberta for a special prosecutor to look into these matters so it is outside of the ability of the Sask Party government to interfere in the process and make sure the forensic audit of our money takes place and all of the players in this murky mess be revealed.

The CBC article indicates that there will be a part two shortly. I am hoping with the Legislature resuming this coming Wednesday, that the NDP opposition is paying attention and will get their act together on this issue to press the government on a daily basis for the necessary answers.

Unfortunately, the PC did not get to the floor of the Legislature in this last election but we will be doing our part to make sure that the taxpayers of this province get the truth about how their money was spent and what did Bill Boyd know that he won't talk about.

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