Who Are The 146 Members Of Brad Wall's Elite "Enterprise Club" And What Meetings Did They Have With Sask Premier And Cabinet?
Now that the public has accidentally found out about Brad Wall's exclusive donor club, the public has a right to know who they are, how much undeclared money was donated to the Sask Party, and what meetings have taken place.
"The Saskatchewan Party moved Tuesday to address what it described as a perception problem by cancelling some of the perks that come with its $1,000 "Enterprise Club" memberships.
However, the Opposition NDP said there appears to be some real problems -including potential concerns about buying access to government -associated with the party's elite membership plan.
Premier Brad Wall said Monday the club's membership provisions would be reviewed and on Tuesday the party announced that luncheon meetings between Enterprise Club members and cabinet ministers, MLAs and government political staffers would be discontinued.
The move was made to erase any "misperception of preferential access," says a party news release.
But the Saskatchewan Party provided a letter sent to prospective Enterprise Club members that could be seen as promising access.
The club is described in the letter as "an excellent venue to present your views and comments to Saskatchewan Party MLAs and our premier, Mr. Brad Wall. Mr. Wall along with other cabinet ministers and MLAs, meet with Enterprise Club members several times throughout the year. Joining the Enterprise Club ensures that your comments and ideas will be heard."
Speaking to reporters, Wall said Tuesday he believed the language in the letter was appropriate but it could be misconstrued.
"Here's the only concern I would have. To the extent that people would read into the language that, you know, if you join this club you're going to have some sort of access that others don't have. And I could see where some would read that into that language,"
But he said club members have never had any more access to decision-makers than any other party member, or member of the public for that matter.
"That's not how we run the affairs of the province," he said. "We have worked very hard to make sure that everybody is treated the same, notwithstanding what they gave."
But NDP justice critic Frank Quennell said the letter was in itself troubling, but the context in which the Enterprise Club issue has arose made it particularly problematic.
It came to light last week that the former CEO of two Humboldt-area colleges attempting a now-dead merger had charged the $1,000 political contribution to his expenses.
The Sask. Party returned the money after learning it was paid for by St. Peter's College. St. Peter's and Carlton Trail Regional College's merger proposal was killed by the government last week amidst serious concerns raised about governance and leadership at the colleges.
Glen Kobussen has since been terminated as Carlton Trail's CEO and placed on leave from St. Peter's.
Quennell said Kobussen's appointment as CEO of the public Carlton Trail college through a contract with St. Peter's, which needed the approval of the government, raises questions about whether lobbying was involved.
And with the government saying Kobussen had been pushing the merger proposal, there are concerns he had used the membership to gain influence, said Quennell.
He also noted the 2009 purchase of the membership did not appear on that year's Sask. Party financial statements. The party said the membership could have been for 2010 and would not appear until the release of financial statements for the year.
Quennell said the government and the party should disclose all Enterprise Club members and their agendas of meetings with government members.
"Then we can start asking some questions about, 'What's the connection between this policy change requested or possibly requested by this Enterprise Club member who had a meeting with a cabinet minister?' " he said in an interview after raising the issue in question period.
The elite membership plan dates back to the Sask. Party's days in opposition.
The party said Enterprise Club members will still receive some additional benefits such as early notification and access to purchase tickets to leader's dinners, golf tournaments and other party events.
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