Regina, Moose Jaw – The New Democratic Party promised a judicial inquiry into the Global Transportation Hub (GTH) development, should they form government after the Oct. 26 election, while the Saskatchewan Party said it was satisfied with the Conflict of Interest Commissioner and Provincial Auditor’s recommendations regarding the GTH.
NDP Leader Ryan Meili and Regina Rosemont Candidate Trent Wotherspoon spoke at the GTH site on the west side of Regina on Oct. 2.
Wotherspoon said, “This GTH, the hub, is mired in controversy and the donors of the Sask. Party made out with millions on this front. Meanwhile, taxpayers got ripped off. The Sask. Party has avoided providing answers, time and time again to Saskatchewan people on this front, they blocked witnesses and haven’t provided any accountability.”
Meili said, “What we’re committing to today is that in government, we will get those answers.
Wotherspoon and Meili noted that a sign for the GTH had been taken down. Meili said, “That faded GTH sign is a bit of a metaphor for the fading trust in the Saskatchewan party from the Saskatchewan public because of this and so many other scandals.
“We saw the Sask. Party donors make millions of dollars in a backroom deal. Meanwhile, the people of Saskatchewan paid more than five times the estimated price for the land. And we saw the Regina Bypass, a $2 billion project price that ballooned and the contract going to a company from France, as though Saskatchewan workers and companies couldn’t build a road around town.
“And we also saw the central figure in that GTH land deal, Mr. Bill Boyd, break conflict of interest rules and an irrigation immigration scheme to promote his own private business interests. And we’ve seen Brandt Developments, one of the top donors to the Sask. Party get free land in Wascana Park to build their commercial office.
“So many questions remain around these deals. But the Sask. Party doesn’t want us to see the answers. And the end the Sask Party continues to hide information and refuses to take any responsibility for their actions. People have lost trust in this government. We absolutely cannot afford four more years of Scott Moe and the Sask Party. Four more years of backroom deals for the old boys’ club, while ordinary families struggle to pay the bills, that’s why New Democrats are committed to a different plan.
Meili said, “A New Democratic Government will call a public inquiry into the GTH, and the Regina bypass scandals, finally get to the bottom of what happened here. We will introduce stronger conflict of interest regulations for MLAs will close the lobbyist registry loophole and require all lobbying to meet made public. And we’ll end the influence of big money on Saskatchewan politics by stopping corporate and union donations.”
He said for the GTH to see any success or investor confidence, “You have to get to the bottom of what’s going on and clear the air.”
When asked how the NDP would deal with the GTH, Meili said, “We need to open the books and actually get the full story before we’re able to make that plan. We would like to see it succeed. We want to see the opportunities for business and transport do well here. But right now, with the cloud of corruption that it’s under, there’s just no way for that to happen.”
Meili said when he’s traveling the province he gets a lot of questions about the GTH.
“And you know, this is a this is actually a plan that we’re stealing a little bit. Because we heard this from Jeremy Harrison and Gord Wyatt and Tina Beaudry-Mellor when they were running to lead the Sask. Party, they wanted to have an inquiry into the GTH. And yet, as soon as Scott Moe got in, suddenly, all of that discussion of greater transparency and greater accountability disappeared. And it certainly won’t disappear. When we’re in government, we’ll get to the bottom of this,” Meili said.
Asked about the GTH while he was in Moose Jaw on the same day, Moe said, “We’ve been very clear numerous times with respect to the investment that the government has made in the global transportation hub and the assets that are there. This is not a business that government should have been in, and this is a business that we are, and have plans to move it to the private sector.
“In saying that, we are not going to move it at a fire sale. We’re going to move it at its fair and appropriate value.
“With respect to the Global Transportation Hub, it has been one of the most scrutinized projects that this government has endeavored. We had the Conflict of Interest Commissioner that looked into the Global Transportation Hub. We had the Provincial Auditor that has looked into the operations and the formation of the Global Transportation Hub. The provincial auditor has provided us with some recommendations of which this government has most certainly accepted and has put those recommendations into action with respect to some of the land procurement in and around the Global Transportation Hub.”
Moe continued, “So we’ve been very clear on this. We’ve talked about it many times at length. There will not be a public inquiry into the Global Transportation Hub, as we feel that it has been looked at by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, the Provincial Auditor, and we are putting into place any of the recommendations that have come out of that scrutiny. And we’re happy to be moving forward with divesting of that land over the course of the next number of years.
Moe said that leadership races are a “great opportunity to stretch the boundary of the party policy,” but that the party policy now is satisfaction with the Provincial Auditor’s recommendations.