One of the politicians hoping to take over from Premier Brad Wall has announced substantial changes regarding the Global Transportation Hub (GTH) – if he’s elected leader of the Saskatchewan Party.
He told reporters Thursday he would divest the GTH as soon as possible and end the province’s involvement in commercial land development.
“There were very serious mistakes made at the formation, as far as the policy background to all of this, and the development of the GTH. Very serious mistakes,” he said.
“The most obvious one of course was that we paid way too much money for the GTH.”
It was one part of Harrison’s 10-point plan. The other points touched on transparency and accountability, with a focus to improve conflict of interest laws.
The latter included giving the Conflict of Interest Commissioner the power to fine those like the premier, MLAs, ministers or political staff found not to be adhering to the rules.
Harrison would also enact a “cooling off” period for ministers and senior officials looking to lobby or do business with anyone they had significant contact with while in government.
“These positions being put forward today are not going to be a surprise to my colleagues,” he said.
Harrison focused on future
As he spoke about transparency, reporters hurled questions about his own government’s transparency and handling of the GTH land scandal, along with conflict of interest issues surrounding the soon-to-be-retired MLA Bill Boyd.
Harrison chose to stick to the future.
“What I’m talking about is a very significant package of reforms that would have prevented any of this from occurring,” he said. “That’s what my focus is, how do we fix this going into the future? As premier, I’m going to make sure that this can never, ever happen again.”
Harrison was asked how he would have handled these types of situations.
“If this happened when I was premier, and a minister were responsible, they would be fired. Period. End of story,” Harrison said.
NDP fires back
Interim leader of the opposition Nicole Sarauer responded shortly after Harrison made his policy announcement.
She explained how, on numerous occasions, she has asked for further information on the GTH on behalf of the NDP, and has asked for specific people with close dealings on the matter to testify before the Public Accounts Committee.
She said each time that has been blocked by that committee, as the Sask. Party members have voted against it.
Sarauer said Harrison has denied accountability on behalf of the Sask. Party caucus.
“It’s pretty rich … it’s pretty convenient for him to come out here and talk about future accountability, yet still not hold any accountability for himself or admit any accountability on himself or the Sask. Party caucus,” she said.
When asked for her reaction to Harrison wanting the province to end its involvement in commercial land development, Sarauer said the government’s already involved in a lot of business and believes the government should be transparent in all of its work.
“If government can’t be trusted with the cookie jar, then they probably shouldn’t be in the kitchen at all.”
A new leader of the Sask. Party will be chosen during a convention in Saskatoon on Jan. 27, 2018.