The NDP wants to know if the government’s massive $3 million tab for a lobbyist in the United States has actually benefitted Saskatchewan families, or mostly just the premier and some American politicians.
Despite the massive price tag, revealed by media Monday, the American lobbyist seemingly has done very little for Saskatchewan.
The 2013 disclosure report of the lobbying firm Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough shows it did no work for Saskatchewan or Premier Brad Wall in February, May, July, August, November or December. During the months it did some work for Saskatchewan, meeting with about 10 individuals were arranged for Premier Brad Wall in the United States.
A handful of meetings of a year is hardly worth a multi-million dollar payday, according to the NDP.
Moreover, many American politicians who agreed to meet with Wall received campaign donations from Saskatchewan’s lobbyist shortly before or after the meeting – a fact NDP Leader Cam Broten demanded accountability on.
“What are Saskatchewan families actually getting from this huge payout of public dollars?,” Broten asked. “How are a few meetings that haven’t produced results of any value benefitting anyone other than Mr. Wall and, potentially, the American politicians who agreed to meet him?”
According to public records, the government used the money to have the lobbyist try to arrange for Wall’s personal profile to be given to American television producers, and to promote him among the Western Governors’ Association. Wall has publicly stated that he’s interested in being Canada's ambassador to Washington.
“We’re paying $3 million so that Mr. Wall can have his photo taken with American politicians, and have his personal biography on file with American TV producers,” said Broten. “Meanwhile, this government can’t scrape together $200,000 to keep an affordable housing project afloat. This government’s priorities are messed up, and its sense of entitlement is becoming more and more obvious.”
Documents show that in 2013, the lobbyist arranged two speeches and meetings with 10 individuals for Wall, had three other meetings with political staff, worked with embattled Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry's office to co-author an op-ed, helped arrange signatories to a pro-Keystone pipeline letter, and corresponded with the Department of Energy and one senator regarding the Boundary Dam carbon capture-and-sequestration project.
“The bottom line when it comes to public dollars is that they should be spent to benefit Saskatchewan families. Full stop,” said Broten. “Paying for Mr. Wall’s photo ops and hobnobbing with American politicians while getting no movement on issues that matter to Saskatchewan families in return is unacceptable, and I think he’s got a lot of explaining to do.”