The NDP is calling on the Sask. Party to release two reports into financial and governance irregularities in the Northern Village of Pinehouse that the government has been sitting on: the report conducted last spring by Neil Robertson before he was named to the Court of Queen’s Bench, and the final report completed by former justice William Vancise in December, both of which the government committed publicly to releasing.
“There has been a serious lack of transparency and accountability by the Sask. Party government on this file,” said NDP Ethics and Democracy Critic David Forbes. “The people of Pinehouse have been waiting for clarity on their important concerns, and they expected the Minister to stick to his commitment to release the report at the end of 2019. This is just another case of the Sask. Party letting people down.”
This issue dates back to July 2016, when 34 concerned citizens wrote a letter to the then-Minister of Municipal Relations asking for help fixing the Local Authority FOI Act so issues around multiple infractions of provincial legislation and serious financial irregularities with the Village could be made public. The Minister responded three months later, committing to “schedule a meeting with the Village council at the earliest opportunity to assist them in complying with the provisions of [The Local Authority FOI Act].”
There was, however, no known follow-up until December 2018, when the then-Minister of Municipal Relations announced that the province would finally investigate. This came after the provincial information and privacy commissioner had found the Village to be in contravention of the Act multiple times.
The NDP also revealed that another former Minister of Municipal Relations, Donna Harpauer, failed to disclose all-expenses-paid fishing trips for her and her partner, paid for by Pinehouse Village, while the government was considering investigating issues with Pinehouse council.
“The people of Pinehouse deserve a government that takes this issue seriously, not one that tries to bury information that makes them look bad,” Forbes said. “The Sask. Party needs to step up, release these reports, and answer for their actions.”