A newly released report from the Information and Privacy Commissioner shows that the Sask. Party’s plans to sell off SaskTel were much more developed than previously known. Documents released by the Saskatchewan NDP show that cabinet created a secret sell-off committee of cabinet to explore ways to sell off up to 50% of the Crowns.
The NDP is calling for the release of all documents the Commissioner recommended be released, and all the documents prepared by the private companies the Sask. Party was looking to sell SaskTel off to. Wotherspoon condemned the Sask. Party for sharing SaskTel’s commercial information with its competitors and exposing SaskTel to potential harm.
“It’s clear this government can’t be trusted with Saskatchewan’s Crowns. They’ve been dishonest about their plans and they’ve betrayed Saskatchewan people’s trust” said NDP Finance critic Trent Wotherspoon. “The Sask. Party knows that people are opposed to their plan to sell off our Crowns and that’s why they’re trying to keep these documents a secret.”
Records from an FOI submitted by the NDP on the sale of SaskTel were withheld by the government. A review from the Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner ruled that some of the records should be released.
The report makes clear that that:
- The Sask. Party government directed SaskTel to report on their progress to “achieve a partial sale of SaskTel.”
- That public opposition to the sell-off is part of the reason the Sask. Party did not want the records released and that government wants to keep the option of a sale open: “the sale of SaskTel has been a topic for several decades and it is possible it could be considered again in the future. It argues that the disclosure of the records could easily impact future negotiations.”
- SaskTel signed a non-disclosure agreement with one of two third parties on May 2, 2017, partially to enable negotiations for a sale. On that same day, Jeremy Harrison said “there have been no formal discussions as to what a transaction may or may not look like, and there have been no formal offers.”
“It’s clear that selling off SaskTel was a lot further along than the Sask. Party wanted anyone to know. The people of this province deserve to know exactly what the Sask. Party was up to,” Wotherspoon said.
Aside from demanding the release of withheld documents, notes, emails and slide decks, the NDP is calling on the Sask Party to answer the following questions:
- Who was on the secret sell-off committee? Was Premier Moe a member of the committee?
- What did Premier Moe say at the cabinet meeting when the committee was struck?
- Does the secret sell-off committee still exist?
“If Scott Moe and the Sask. Party have nothing to hide, they’ll release these documents,” Wotherspoon said. “We need a government that’s focused on making Saskatchewan’s Crowns stronger, instead of constantly scheming to sell them off.”