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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Last week I talked about the recent revelations brought forward by the CBC i-Team on the GTH land scandal. Most people I talked to in Saskatchewan over the last week are outraged by this huge expenditure of taxpayers' dollars which only benefitted a few friends of the Sask Party government.

Last Wednesday, I started my day off by hand-delivering a letter to the RCMP asking them to investigate the identity of the individual who phoned the then GTH Minister Bill Boyd offering the land belonging to an Order of Nuns and the McNally family to the government. I also asked them to investigate some of the cabinet documents which have been made public but seemed out of whack with cabinet procedures. I did this because I believe that the investigation done by the Provincial Auditor was too narrow in scope and had no ability to identify all the players in this evolving scandal. Her audit was not a forensic audit.

I then went to the Legislative Assembly for the opening day of the fall session. I had hoped when I attended Question Period that the Wall government would come to its senses and begin answering the questions that taxpayers across Saskatchewan deserve. I also hoped that the Sask Party government would reveal the true state of Saskatchewan's finances so that we might all clearly understand the challenges facing our province. I got none of the above.

The NDP opposition received no answers and the taxpayers of this province are no further ahead today getting these questions answered than they were last week. We need to know who made the call to the Minister. We need to know why the GTH instead of the Department of Highways was buying land for a highways interchange on the Regina bypass and why Bill Boyd tried to get a decision item through cabinet without revealing the name of who the public's money was being spent on.

We also need to know why coincidentally Sask Power stepped in to buy property in a transportation logistics hub and inland port when they are not in any of those businesses. The answer seems obvious. The GTH could no longer borrow money to pay for the land being offered for sale by friends of the government. It just so happens that the Minister in charge of Sask Power at the time was also Bill Boyd. Coincidence again? I think not.

Why has Sask Power's board minutes on this issue not been revealed to the public by now and why are they blocking the Freedom of Information requests? Some of you might think this is just the whining of an opposition politician with an axe to grind against the Sask Party government. Well I am pleased to say that Todd Mackay, the Prairie Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, is asking the same questions. As Mr. Mackay said in his article in Saturday's Leader Post, not only should the questions be answered but someone must be held accountable. Bill Boyd should not have been allowed to leave cabinet with a glowing endorsement by the Premier without first answering all of these questions.

I am sure there are many other groups of concerned citizens around this province who share the same feelings. Our democracy is built on the concept of ministerial accountability and cabinet secrecy until everyone gets to see the decision not just a select few.

The Provincial Auditor in her report did point out that Mr. Marquart had access to the decision of cabinet on the land purchase before it was made public. In my view, that is an unconscionable breach of our government's responsibility and someone should answer for that.

The questions the NDP should be asking this week are...what did you know Premier Wall about the GTH land buying and what did you do about it besides signing your name to the $21 million order in council?

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons

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