NDP calling on Sask. Party to release records about potential SaskTel ‘selloffs’

Some records relating to conversations had with third parties about purchasing a stake in the Crown corporation should be released, privacy commissioner says; Sask. Party accuses NDP of spreading ‘misinformation’

NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon speaks to reporters at the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina on August 9, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The NDP is drawing attention to a newly released Information and Privacy Commissioner report about the Saskatchewan Party’s possible plans to privatize SaskTel.

The NDP said the report showed the government’s intentions to sell off SaskTel in 2017 were further along than they told the public; however, the Sask. Party says it’s not selling the crown jewel.

NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon was at the Legislature in Regina on Friday to voice his concerns.

“Saskatchewan people are owed that information. These are their crown corporations; these are owned by the people of the province. The residents of Saskatchewan are the shareholders,” he said.

On the other hand, the Sask. Party said in a statement that it’s been vocal about its plans: “Premier Moe has been clear that our government has no intention of privatizing Saskatchewan’s crown corporations, including SaskTel.”

“It is disappointing that the NDP would resort to the same old misinformation and fear tactics that were squarely rejected by the people of Saskatchewan when the NDP made similar allegations in the 2007, 2011, and 2016 provincial elections.”

The report shows SaskTel received the access to information request on August 23, 2017. It said to release documents from May 1, 2017 to August 28, 2018 regarding offers or purchases of equity stakes in SaskTel.

Wotherspoon said when the NDP initially submitted the requests, they got “nothing but a couple of blacked out emails” from the Sask. Party.

When they appealed, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner asked that some of the records be released.

It says others are fair to withhold because they are not relevant to the request.

The NDP claims the report uncovers a secret Sask. Party committee that looks at ways to sell up to 50 per cent of crown corporations.

“This report opens up a whole bunch of serious questions that we’re going to be looking to be answered,” said Wotherspoon.

An NDP news release said they’re wanting the Sask. Party to answer if a selloff committee currently exists, who was on it, if Premier Scott Moe was on it and what he would have said at the cabinet meeting when the committee was developed.

— with files from the Regina Leader-Post’s Jennifer Ackerman