Sask. Party to re­peal Crown pri­va­ti­za­tion law

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - LETTER TO THE EDITOR - D.C. FRASER

Say­ing that he had heard from the peo­ple, Premier Brad Wall an­nounced Tues­day af­ter­noon in a Face­book video that his Saskatchewan Party govern­ment will re­peal a law that al­lowed the sale of up to 49 per cent of a Crown cor­po­ra­tion.

Known as Bill 40, the plan faced sig­nif­i­cant op­po­si­tion from the time it was first pitched in Au­gust 2016 and as it worked its way to be­com­ing law.

“Our govern­ment is re­peal­ing Bill 40 to be con­sis­tent with what you view in terms of the Crown cor­po­ra­tions and their im­por­tance to this prov­ince. No por­tion of them will be pri­va­tized,” Wall said in the video.

While the news is not al­to­gether sur­pris­ing — the premier had hinted at it pre­vi­ously — it is a sig­nif­i­cant de­par­ture from the rhetoric ear­lier em­ployed by Wall and Sask. Party MLAs who have de­fended the leg­is­la­tion for over a year.

As Bill 40 be­came law, there was spec­u­la­tion SaskTel and other Crown cor­po­ra­tions would be put up for par­tial sale.

In May 2016, Wall’s govern­ment or­dered a risk as­sess­ment be done on the fu­ture of SaskTel.

At the same time, he tem­pered con­cerns from the NDP op­po­si­tion and union groups by say­ing a sale would not take place with­out a public ref­er­en­dum.

Months later he de­clared he had “the clear­est sense from vot­ers” there was no in­ter­est in a sale. By the end of the year, Wall told re­porters he did not see a sale hap­pen­ing based on public re­sponse he had seen to the idea.

Bill 40 still went on to re­ceive royal as­sent and be­came law at the end of April 2017, while mem­bers of Wall’s govern­ment were hold­ing talks about it char­ac­ter­ized as “high level” with pri­vate com­pa­nies.

In Au­gust, Wall said, “If Saskatchewan peo­ple who own th­ese Crown cor­po­ra­tions feel that any change in own­er­ship at all con­sti­tutes a pri­va­ti­za­tion, we have to con­sider that.”

Wall had said that only sales ben­e­fi­cial to the peo­ple of Saskatchewan, ca­pa­ble of in­clud­ing things like as­sur­ances head of­fices would re­main in the prov­ince, would be con­sid­ered.

Wed­nes­day is the first day of the 28th Leg­is­la­ture, marked by a Speech from the Throne that Wall had pre­vi­ously in­di­cated would ref­er­ence Bill 40.

With Tues­day’s an­nounce­ment, the premier brings clar­ity to what that ref­er­ence will look like.

Speak­ing di­rectly to the peo­ple of Saskatchewan in his video, Wall said he wanted peo­ple to know that “we have heard you” and thanked them for their “very di­rect feed­back.”

At times, such as when hun­dreds of union pro­test­ers took to the Leg­isla­tive Build­ing, that feed­back was in­deed ex­tremely di­rect.

Op­po­si­tion NDP in­terim leader Nicole Sa­rauer said Tues­day the Sask. Party can’t be trusted with the Crowns.

“They’ve proved that time and time again. They’re con­tin­u­ing to prove it,” she said. “They wanted to sell off our Crowns ear­lier, and the premier floated SaskTel as an op­tion, and it was shut down quite hand­ily by Saskatchewan peo­ple. Same thing with Bill 40,” she said, adding “it’s just a mat­ter of time” be­fore they try an­other method of sell­ing the Crowns.

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