Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall stands in the Legislative Assembly before question period in Regina.
Premier Brad Wall has personally invested in three of the oil companies he is trying to lure to Saskatchewan.
His public disclosure statements show he has investments in Whitecap Resources and five other oil companies.
Last week a letter Wall sent to Whitecap offering a package to move to Saskatchewan was released publicly.
The offer from Wall outlines how the province could help move the company: “including costs associated with prematurely terminated leases”, tax incentives, assistance in finding office space (“including the potential of leveraging existing government office buildings”) and “help with other hurdles as you define them and as can reasonably be offered.”
Combined, Wall and his wife Tami have 1,826 shares in Whitecap worth $18,842 as of March 30.
That represents 37.3 per cent of their total $50,466 in energy holdings, primarily in a registered retirement savings plan and a locked-in retirement plan.
Saskatchewan’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner Ron Barclay was asked to look into the matter by Wall.
He wrote in his decision, “the only way for you and your wife to benefit from the offer is if the actual relocation of the three companies on the terms outlined in the offer actually increases the publicly traded share value” and that “there does not appear to be any evidence that such a relocation, if it even occurred, could plausibly increase the share price.”
Barclay concluded that he can “state you are not in breach of the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act.”
Whitecap has also made significant donations to Wall’s Saskatchewan Party. From 2009 to 2015, the company donated $11,312.52.
A lengthly statement from Wall’s office said the party receives donations from thousands of individuals and corporations.
It also said Wall has sent letters to several other companies in which he does not own any shares.
“Since becoming Premier, he has continuously made efforts to attract head offices, investment and jobs to Saskatchewan and will continue to do so. We have more letters going to more companies from the Minister of Economy next week,” said the statement.
It was also noted in the statement that the incentives Wall is offering companies to move have been in place for a few years and that “cash is not paid to companies to attract them to relocate or create jobs in Saskatchewan” but tax incentives — meaning those companies pay less — are provided.
Wall has been defending the letter he sent to Whitecap — and about five other companies — this week while many have criticized the move coming on the heels of a budget that increases taxes by $1 billion, eliminates STC and cuts funding to universities and libraries.
Wall said Thursday the letters should not be a surprise to anyone because he has, since becoming premier, regularly asked companies to relocate to Saskatchewan.
Alberta’s Premier Rachel Notley is charging Wall’s letters may be breaching the New West Trade Partnership (NWTP).
Article 12 of the NWTP says “Parties shall not directly or indirectly provide business subsidies that entire or assist the relocation from another Party” while the federal Agreement on Internal Trade says “a government is prohibited from offering incentives that entice a business to relocate in that province.”
Wall remains confident his efforts to attract companies to Saskatchewan are within the provisions of those agreements.
“We’re letting folks know about existing policies. I think all provinces will continue to do that and will do that. So we haven’t got a specific relocation program that we’ve developed that would be counter to the spirit of those trade deals,” he said.