The commentary you are reading this morning is one that I have known that I would write since the summer of 2015. I didn't know what the outcome would be and I certainly didn't know how encompassing for taxpayers it would become but I knew there would be a commentary on the GTH that would bring some closure.
This last week, the RCMP called a news conference to announce that no criminal charges would be laid against anyone involved in the GTH land scandal. At first glance, that would bring some closure to a story which most Saskatchewan people are at least somewhat familiar with. A prosecutor in Manitoba has decided there would be a poor chance of convicting former and current Sask Party politicians of criminal behaviour. The same goes for some of their friends and acquaintances.
Let's be clear on this. The prosecutor on the basis of the information provided by the RCMP has decided there was not enough evidence to guarantee a conviction in a court of law. That is far different than a public inquiry into what went wrong.
Let's review the facts. Fact #1 - Bill Boyd, then Minister responsible for the GTH and many other facets of our economy, tried to take a document through cabinet which was going to pay an unnamed individual over $6 million for land being purchased by the GTH. Then Attorney General, Gord Wyant, stopped it going through because how could you spend taxpayer's money on an individual who didn't want their name revealed to the public.
Fact #2 - a Saskatchewan public servant by the name of Laurie Pushor who negotiated this deal and others on behalf of Bill Boyd has not testified at the Saskatchewan Public Accounts Committee even though he has now risen to the position of Deputy Minister because the Sask Party majority on that committee will not let him be brought forward for questioning. I believe this may be the only time in the history of Saskatchewan's Legislature this has been allowed to happen.
Fact #3 is that some of these land purchases were done in such a way that the transactions and the amount of the transactions were not revealed in Saskatchewan's land purchase registry system whereby law all real estate transactions must be registered and the sale prices revealed to the public.
Fact #4 is that a well-known Regina business person and big time Sask Party donor made over $5 million on the second flip of the same land purchased by the GTH.
Fact #5 - The RCMP did not obtain any warrants from a judge in order to go into the bank accounts of individuals involved in the GTH's transactions. I do not believe it would be possible to come to reasonable conclusions without being able to follow the money trail between individuals such as Boyd and the family he rents thousands of acres of farmland from. The old adage about following the money in order to get the answers should have been part of this investigation in my view.
Fact # 6 - Sask Party leadership contender and former Attorney General, Gord Wyant, said there must be a full and open inquiry into the GTH land dealings if there is to be full accountability by the Sask Party government. Now Deputy Premier Gord Wyant has not said a single thing since the RCMP news conference and now seems to be hiding behind now Attorney General Don Morgan's skirt.
From the very first look into this matter after receiving an anonymous phone call and reviewing and finding cabinet documents which had the wrong numbers attached to a numbered company, I had hoped that the taxpayers of Saskatchewan would receive a fair and equitable accounting of how their money was being spent. The RCMP news conference last week, in my view, did not accomplish that.
Everyone I have talked to from all walks of life since last week are of the same opinion. In fact, one individual phoned me up and said it looks like the bad guys got away with one. I would like to believe that will never be the case when talking about our political system and how we as a society govern ourselves and allocate our resources for the benefit of all.
It only takes one principled individual to step forward and address all the facts I have listed previous and probably many more to give all of us the assurance that when we sign our income tax forms we do so for the right reasons. I think Deputy Premier Gord Wyant has the ability to do that or perhaps it's some individual who put a lifetime into being a good public servant who can answer these questions.
We don't need a criminal trial to clear the air. The criminal conviction of another politician would only heighten the cynicism of voters and stop people participating in our democracy. We need more voters to ensure there aren't more GTH's by electing principled politicians.
Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.