Calls for committee meeting to go ahead – call for interim report before election
Brad Wall’s attempt to keep secret an investigation by the provincial auditor into his government's troubling land deal until after the April 4 election is absolutely wrong, according to NDP Leader Cam Broten.
To pre-empt a more detailed order from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Wall signed an order allowing the auditor to investigate the land deal, but he refused to provide a timeline or require a full or interim report prior to the election. Broten says the PAC meeting should still be called – and the NDP will table a motion to ensure Saskatchewan people see as much of the auditor’s investigation as possible before the election.
“Money was clearly wasted, and we all need to know why Brad Wall personally signed the order to hand over more than $21 million for land that was worth just a fraction of that – especially when all other land owners in the region were paid between $9,000 and $23,000, and were threatened with expropriation,” said Broten.
“Mr. Wall told us he intends to keep his budget plans a secret until after the April election, and now he wants to keep the investigation into his sketchy land deal a secret until then, too. The fact that he doesn’t want people to know where all the money has gone, and what he’ll cut or privatize next, is very disturbing. And the fact that he wants to conceal the findings of this investigation into a deal that he personally approved is outrageous. All of us deserve the truth before the election.”
In the land deal, signed by Wall, the Sask. Party paid $103,000 per acre for a 204-acre stretch of land for its Global Transportation Hub (GTH) near Regina – three times the appraised value. The original owners were told the government may expropriate the land, but businessmen bought it anyway, and the Sask. Party then didn’t expropriate it – but paid extra for it. Later, the GTH flipped much of the land to another government ministry for half that price.
Media reports have raised serious questions about the relationship between the Sask. Party and the businessmen who made tens of millions off this land deal, including a land-rental arrangement between Boyd and one of the businessmen, and thousands in political donations to both Boyd and the Sask. Party.
Saskatchewan's independent auditor said Friday this “looks like it's not a normal transaction.”