Friday, January 18, 2008

Enterprise Saskatchewan: Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart comes up short on sector team and board transparency

Hon. Lyle Stewart, Minister of Enterprise and Innovation

In a Jan. 18 news release Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart all but confirmed the significant influence the “sector teams” will have in the Wall government’s economic development scheme.

According to Stewart, “the major organizational focus of Enterprise Saskatchewan will be based on key sectors of the provincial economy. The agency’s job, through additional sector participation, will be to identify and monitor competitive advantages and disadvantages in each sector, and to prescribe appropriate actions and strategies to enhance Saskatchewan competitiveness and growth. As well, the agency is responsible for identifying barriers to Saskatchewan’s growth and making recommendations on action to removing those barriers.”

The mysterious sector teams will identify barriers to economic growth and make recommendations to the Enterprise Saskatchewan board on how they should be removed. That much seems to be clear.

Some things Stewart hasn’t explained yet include: How many sector teams will there be? How many people will be on each team? How will they be selected and what qualifications are required? Who will be selecting the team members? How much will they be paid? Will the names of team members be made public?

The majority of the Enterprise Saskatchewan board will be unelected but the sector teams will be even one step further removed from the public in terms of accountability. This is cause for concern given the importance of its mandate.

Stewart said “reports from Enterprise Saskatchewan will be made public.”

That’s great, but what about reports to Enterprise Saskatchewan. How about correspondence to and from the board will that be made public? How about board meetings will they be open to the public? How often will the board meet? Will the agency be subject to The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act?

The same goes for the sector teams. Will their meetings, reports and correspondence be accessible to the public? How often will they meet?

Stewart said the full list of organizations invited to nominate people to Enterprise Saskatchewan will be made public. That’s fine, too. But a legitimate question is why did over 50 organizations receive more than one invitation? Are those organizations being allowed to nominate more than one person?

Section 5(1)(d) of the proposed Enterprise Saskatchewan Act allows the agency to “accept contributions or receive moneys from any source for carrying out its purposes.” Will the names of donors and the amounts contributed be made public? Will the agency be permitted to receive contributions from organizations whose members sit on either the board or a sector team?

The Wall government’s level of transparency with respect to certain aspects of Enterprise Saskatchewan leaves a lot to be desired.


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