Wall may re­visit leg­is­la­tion on par­tial sale of Crowns

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - The Cana­dian Press

Pre­mier Brad Wall says the gov­ern­ment is re­con­sid­er­ing leg­is­la­tion that al­lows up to 49 per cent of a Crown cor­po­ra­tion to be sold with­out that be­ing con­sid­ered pri­va­ti­za­tion.

Wall says Saskatchewan Party politi­cians have been hear­ing con­cerns from peo­ple across the province about the law passed in the spring.

“There’s a con­sid­er­able view out there that folks be­lieve that any change in own­er­ship — even if it’s five per cent own­er­ship in a Crown — con­sti­tutes pri­va­ti­za­tion,” Wall said Wed­nes­day.

When the gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced the leg­is­la­tion last fall, Wall ar­gued that it would pro­tect a Crown be­cause the gov­ern­ment would keep ma­jor­ity con­trol. He said the move would al­low for part­ner­ships that could help de­velop the busi­ness.

“I was cer­tainly of the view that the peo­ple of the province would see a part­ner­ship that did not lose ma­jor­ity con­trol for the peo­ple of Saskatchewan as just that — and not a pri­va­ti­za­tion where you’ve lost con­trol and you can’t con­trol the head of­fice,” he said.

“But, you know, to the ex­tent that I may not have read that cor­rectly on be­half of the peo­ple that own the Crown cor­po­ra­tion, we’re go­ing to find out. We’re go­ing to con­tinue to do the work and be re­spon­sive to that.”

Some crit­ics have said the gov­ern­ment was look­ing at a po­ten­tial sale of SaskTel, the provin­cially owned telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany, be­cause the province is try­ing to bring down a $1.3-bil­lion deficit from last year. The takeover of Man­i­toba Telecom Ser­vices by Bell Me­dia leaves SaskTel as the last re­gional car­rier in Western Canada and makes it vul­ner­a­ble.

“It’s not for sale. It’s cer­tainly open to part­ner­ships, as of right now. There is no par­tic­u­lar pro­posal on the ta­ble, as far as I know,” said Wall. “Here’s my pri­or­ity for SaskTel: it’s not an own­er­ship struc­ture change, frankly. Right now the pri­or­ity for SaskTel is to im­prove cov­er­age.”

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