Premier Brad Wall's Government Seems To Be Repeating The Same Scandals That Plagued Premier Grant Devine In the '80's
Grant Devine's Giga Text Scandal - 1989
In 1989 the Saskatchewan government was required to have certain provincial laws printed in French and English, which promised to be an enormous undertaking. The Devine Conservative government contracted with Guy Montpetit, a business associate of Michael Cogger, who was a close friend and campaign chairman for, Brian Mulroney. (Cogger would later be appointed to the senate).
Cogger sought the services of Ken Waschuk, a Conservative party pollster in Saskatchewan, who introduced Montpetit to Deputy Premier Eric Berntson. Montpetit assured him that he could provide the government with computer equipment and software that would do all the translations for them.
The Devine government quickly invested $4 million in GigaText for 25 percent of the shares. Montpetit and his business partner, Douglas Young, a Winnipeg university professor, invested no money, but received 75 percent of the shares. GigaText used the money to purchase twenty computers from another Montpetit-owned company, Lisp, which in turn had obtained the computers from GigaMos Systems,Inc., yet another Montpetit company. GigaMos had obtained the computers from a bankrupt U.S. computer company a few months earlier. They were part of the U.S. company's inventory and, according to an independent court-appointed auditor, had a value of $39,000. " However, GigaMos billed Lisp $1.5 million for the computers; an invoice was sent, but no money changed hands.In other words, Saskatchewan's Conservative government paid almost three million dollars for thirty-nine thousand dollars worth of computers!
In other words, Lisp didn't pay anything for the computers. For these same computers, GigaText (that is, the government of Saskatchewan, the sole financial
backer of GigaText) paid $2.9 million.
When (Senator Eric) Bernston, who struck the deal was asked about this, he shrugged it off, claiming they got value for the money spent. They would fork over another million dollars, while Montpetit lived the high life, though he did share the wealth:
He also flew Eric Berntson, Berntson's chief political aide Terry Leier, and Ken Waschuk to various destinations. Leier, as a GigaText board member, received a $5,000 cash advance, while Waschuk was given a $150,000 interest-free loan. (4)And despite the four million dollar expenditure, the computers never worked. The first time they tried to do a demonstration, they coughed and died. All of this is a matter of public record.
Brad Wall's IPAC Scandal - 2013
A report on the Sask. Party’s IPAC-CO2 project has revealed a conflict of interest scandal that appears to have cost taxpayers millions of dollars -- despite the Sask. Party’s false claims that money was well spent.
A forensic investigation by Myers Norris Penny revealed the conflict of interest originated because two individuals held seats on both the IPAC and Climate Ventures Inc. (CVI) boards. Through a “handshake” agreement, IPAC gave CVI $2.9 million over a year and a half for computer hardware, software and IT services that were worth considerably less.
According to the report, “Through review of invoices and comparison with other vendors, it was noted that CVI’s business practice was to mark up invoices it received for services rendered by third parties for IPAC’s business purposes by significant amounts.” The report describes a web of conflicts in which managers were able to transfer public money to their own companies through a sole-sourced agreement with no contract.
NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon has repeatedly asked the Sask. Party to reveal the Myers Norris Penny report over the last year. Sask. Party Minister Donna Harpauer and the government defended the costs, claimed there was a written contract where none ever existed and claimed the report showed taxpayers were getting a fair deal.
Harpauer told a legislative committee on June 19, 2012, “I can look at the eyes of anyone in Saskatchewan and say I am very, very comfortable that the public dollars that were spent, they received goods and services that they were spent on.” Reported on CBC Thursday, IPAC board chair Dennis Fitzpatrick said, “It found that the money was well spent, everything was accounted for and there was no impropriety.”
Wotherspoon said those claims don’t match up with the actual report, revealed by an investigative reporter. The report notes that as a result of the conflict and mismanagement, IPAC may have been “paying for goods/services that are inadequate and/or not received.”
“The Sask. Party’s responsibility to come clean is long overdue,” said Wotherspoon who, on Wednesday, asked the independent provincial auditor to investigate. “Saskatchewan people deserve better than a slow leak of disturbing information through the media that exposes unacceptable conflicts, misleading statements and allegations of taxpayer money wasted. They deserve straight answers and protection of public money.”
Wotherspoon added that the Sask. Party has no right to claim ignorance on the file. The government paid $100,000 to start CVI and has held three of IPAC’s seven board of director seats since IPAC’s inception. “The minister should have known what was going on and stopped it. Instead, it looks like the Sask. Party’s focus was on sweeping the whole affair under the rug.”