Monday, March 08, 2010

Secrecy continues as Wall government denies third freedom of information request for Western Economic Partnership records

For the third time in less than a year, the Saskatchewan Party government has denied a freedom of information request for records pertaining to the Western Economic Partnership between Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.

The request, dated January 26, 2010, was submitted to Executive Council for copies of any briefing notes regarding the economic partnership since October 1, 2009. The ministry’s executive director of corporate services, Bonita Cairns, denied the application on March 2, 2010, pursuant to several sections of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Wall government slammed the door on two previous attempts to obtain information on the secretive trade deal.

October 22, 2009: Access was denied to copies of the two most recent draft versions of the Western Economic Partnership Agreement.

April 21, 2009: Access was denied to copies of any agendas, minutes, reports, briefing notes, memorandums or letters, including attachments, regarding the trilateral provincial meeting that took place on March 13, 2009, in Vancouver. Access to any agreements or memorandums of understanding that were signed at the meeting was also turned down.

At the inaugural joint cabinet meeting held March 13, 2009, the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan agreed to enter into a Western Economic Partnership.

In Calgary, on September 11, 2009, the three provinces held a second joint cabinet meeting where premiers signed a Western Economic Partnership encompassing four areas: internal trade; international marketing; innovation; and, procurement.

In an interview after the meeting, Premier Brad Wall confessed the partnership agreement is akin to the controversial B.C.-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA). [Sask. inks deal with Alta., B.C. (StarPhoenix, September 12, 2009)]

That agreement was signed on April 28, 2006, without any prior public consultation or legislative debate. Wall is taking Saskatchewan down the same road.

The new agreement was supposed to be finalized by January 1, 2010, but the deadline came and went.

On November 30, 2009, the NDP Opposition criticized the premier for not revealing details of the pact.

“Lots of time has passed, so we want to know what have they discussed, what have they decided,” NDP MLA Len Taylor said.

“It’s very hard for the public of Saskatchewan to be supportive of a new trade agreement without seeing it.”

Wall told reporters it’s still being negotiated so it can’t yet be made public. [Trade deal still in works: Wall (StarPhoenix, December 1, 2009)]

That’s precisely the point. The public and Legislative Assembly should have the opportunity to see and debate the agreement before it’s signed. But Wall will have none of that.

It’s nearly mid-March and there’s still no word from the Wall government on what’s happening. In other words, it’s business as usual.


At 11:01 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Wall and his gang have taken politics and governing to a whole new low in our province. How proud his mentor, Grant Devine, must be! Hopefully the voters will right this wrong when we go to the ballot box in November of 2011.


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