Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Council approves $5.75 million public subsidy to Lake Placid Developments; city kept no copies of Deloitte reports on financial due diligence

The Lake Placid Nine: Mayor Don Atchison, Councillors Bev Dubois,
Myles Heidt, Darren Hill, Maurice Neault, Tiffany Paulsen,
Glen Penner, Bob Pringle, and Gordon Wyant

“The most common public subsidy comes from providing some or all of the land for the project at less than its market value. Public streets and lanes are often closed to make way for large projects. These can amount to a very sizable proportion of the total area, and they are usually sold at bargain basement prices to the developer.”
– James Lorimer, Regina-born author and publisher, commenting on government subsidies to the development industry in his book The Developers (1978)
City council on June 14, 2010, awarded Lake Placid Developments a public subsidy of $5.75 million when it voted 9-2 in favour of entering into a sale agreement with the developer to sell River Landing Parcel Y and the adjacent lane (which council on September 15, 2008, agreed to close and sell to Lake Placid at its request) for $5.24 million – less than half the appraised market value of $11 million.

The deal requires Lake Placid to pay a deposit of $250,000 within two days of final approval by council and gives the developer until November 1, 2010, to supply the city with a copy of a commitment letter from a financial institution or other lender, or such other documentation satisfactory to the city, which shows that it has obtained financing in an amount sufficient to complete construction of the proposed River Landing Village to grade level, including excavation and shoring footings and foundation and all levels of the underground parking structure. Once Lake Placid meets this condition it has 15 business days to pay the balance of the purchase price, being the sum of $4,990,494. Following this, the developer will then have 18 months to get the development to grade level, the cost of which is said to be between $50 million and $60 million. The total cost of the condo-office-hotel-retail project is estimated at $200 million-plus.

The new sale agreement has one significant difference from the original deal that council approved on January 14, 2008. This time, the city has the power to unilaterally waive, at its election, the deadline by which the developer must provide the city with documentation showing it has financing in place to bring the development to grade level. Presumably this was done to spare the city the embarrassment of having to deal with any more missed deadlines. In other words, the deal could remain in place indefinitely.

Voting in favour of the sweetheart deal was Mayor Don Atchison and councillors Bev Dubois, Myles Heidt, Darren Hill, Maurice Neault, Tiffany Paulsen, Glen Penner, Bob Pringle and Gordon Wyant.

According to the StarPhoenix, Atchison argued the deadline was necessary so the developer doesn’t have to come back to council asking for another extension.

“Quite frankly, we want to make sure that no one has to come back again,” Atchison said. “This is it. Either it’s done or it’s not done.” [City backs Lake Placid (StarPhoenix, Tuesday, June 15, 2010)]

Atchison made a similar comment last summer about an earlier deadline, one that eventually proved worthless.

The recent decision by council betrays a resolution it passed on August 19, 2009, stating that if Lake Placid failed to meet an October 30, 2009, deadline to pay the full balances owing on Parcel Y and the lane, then both sale agreements would be terminated “without further resolution of council.”

Atchison said at the meeting the deadline was an “absolute certainty now.” If the developer didn’t come up with money owing on the land the agreement would be “terminated.”

“There’s no more chances,” Atchison declared. [Lake Placid gets time (StarPhoenix, August 20, 2009)]

Voting in favour of that deadline was the mayor and councillors Bev Dubois, Myles Heidt, Maurice Neault, Glen Penner, Bob Pringle, and Gordon Wyant.

Lake Placid subsequently missed the deadline and, on October 30, the mayor issued a news release reaffirming council’s decision that not only were the sale agreements dead, but that Lake Placid had also forfeited its two deposits totaling $250,000 and the interest payment of $193,770.48 it made in August. Within weeks, however, Atchison and several councillors were openly saying they would support re-entering negotiations with the developer.

Council’s actions over the past two years on this file have confirmed at least three things. One, it can and will play favourites. Two, it can and will change the rules to suit its purposes. And three, it cannot be trusted to keep its word.

What has gone unreported is that, despite saying there would be one, city administration failed to table a report with council on the outcome of the financial due diligence for the Lake Placid development.

Council at its meeting held April 12, 2010, directed administration to enter into discussions with Lake Placid and partners with the intent of entering into a new sale agreement for Parcel Y and the adjacent lane, based upon the terms and conditions of the original agreement with Lake Placid at a purchase price of no less than $4.8 million, including an appropriate due diligence review, with a report back to council on May 10, 2010, if possible, but no later than May 25, 2010.

In a report to council, the city manager indicated that outside auditors, Deloitte & Touche Inc., would be able and willing to assist with the due diligence process. In fact, administration and representatives from Deloitte had already met with Lake Placid CEO Michael Lobsinger and his partner, Dr. Karim Nasser, a director of Victory Majors Investments Corporation, on April 7, 2010, where the developers provided documentation for review by Deloitte.

However, by the week of May 17th, when the agenda for the May 25, 2010, city council meeting was posted on the city’s website, it became apparent that the deadline for the due diligence report would not be kept.

In a report to council that was short on specifics, city manager Murray Totland explained: “Deloitte &Touche Inc., an independent outside auditor, was hired by the City to work directly with Lake Placid and its partners on the financial due diligence review. The Executive Committee has been meeting on a regular basis to review progress reports on the financial due diligence and provide direction to the Administration on the development of the Memorandum of Sale Agreement.

“At the time of writing, the financial due diligence review and negotiations on an agreement are ongoing. We hope a report will be available in time for the June 14, 2010, City Council meeting.”

The report never arrived.

City council, sitting as an executive committee, met behind closed doors on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 25, 2010, to discuss the Parcel Y situation. When council convened that evening for its regular public meeting, the mayor provided a report. The meeting minutes give the following synopsis: “His Worship the Mayor verbally reported that since the report of the City Manager was submitted, the Executive Committee has met and will be forwarding a report to City Council on June 14, 2010, recommending that the City enter into a memorandum of sale for Parcel “Y” with Lake Placid Developments (Saskatchewan) Inc. for the purchase price of $5,240,494 and on the terms and conditions as set out in the proposed memorandum of sale. The Administration has been instructed to give Public Notice as required under The Cities Act and the City’s Public Notice Policy. Public notice ads will be placed in the local press under dates of June 5 and June 12, 2010.”

Atchison’s so-called report failed to address the fate of administration’s financial due diligence report.

The report submitted by the executive committee for city council’s June 14, 2010, meeting contains no details or results of the financial due diligence that was conducted by the external auditor. The report offers only this short paragraph: “The Executive Committee has received various updates from the Administration on negotiations for a Memorandum of Sale Agreement with Lake Placid Developments (Saskatchewan) Inc. The Committee has also met with representatives of Deloitte & Touche Inc. to hear the results of their financial due diligence.”

On June 18, 2010, an email was sent to the city clerk asking for clarification on administrations financial due diligence report. What happened to it? Did executive committee ask or instruct administration not to submit one? There has been no response. As such, the case of the missing report remains unanswered.

When it comes to hypocrisy and making outrageous comments, Mayor Don Atchison is not alone.

In May, Councillor Maurice Neault was quoted in VerbNews as saying council will make sure that due diligence requirements are met and that people have a chance to address council with their opinions.

“There’s a process that we have to follow, totally transparent,” Neault said. “The opportunity is there at the council meeting [for anyone] to come forth and publicly speak their mind.” [River Landing Sale Price Set (VerbNews, May 28-June 3, 2010)]

Simply allowing the public to address council is not being totally transparent. Not even close. Along with council’s decision to move the Mendel Art Gallery to River Landing, Parcel Y is one of the most secretive projects around.

As a councillor, Neault would know that the public does not have access to the agendas or minutes of closed door executive committee meetings. The public will likely never know what directions or instructions councillors gave administration. Residents will surely never know what individual councillors said. The city is declining to provide even the most basic information about the in-camera meetings. On May 20, 2010, an email was sent to the city clerk’s office asking the following questions:

▪ What were the dates of the meetings?
▪ How many progress reports have been tabled?
▪ Are the reports from administration or Deloitte & Touche?

The response from administration the next day was short and to the point.

“I am unable to provide you with the requested information. In Camera agenda matters and discussions are not disclosed or released,” said deputy city clerk Joanne Sproule.

And that’s not all. The city is also refusing to release the terms of its agreement with Deloitte & Touche.

On April 20, 2010, an access to information request was submitted to the city clerk’s office for a copy of the terms of reference, agreement or contract between the city and the outside auditor.

In a letter dated April 28, 2010, the city clerk advised, “There is one document that is responsive to [the request], being a letter that confirms the terms of engagement of Deloitte & Touche LLP by the City of Saskatoon to provide financial consulting services. I am not releasing this letter for the following reasons:

▪ It was provided in explicit confidence to the City by Deloitte and it contains proprietary information, the disclosure of which could reasonably by expected to prejudice the competitive position of Deloitte. [Section 18(1)(c)(ii) of The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act]

▪ It contains information which, if disclosed, could reasonably be expected to interfere with negotiations of the City with Lake Placid Developments. [Section 17(1)(d) of the Act]”

It should be noted that while section 18 of the Act is mandatory, section 17 is not, it is discretionary, meaning the city could release the information if it wanted.

On May 28, 2010, an access to information request was submitted to the city for copies of any progress reports since April 1, 2010, regarding or relating to the financial due diligence process. The request was neither granted nor denied.

In a letter dated June 18, 2010, the city clerk said: “The City has no records that are responsive to this request. Deloitte & Touche LLP, who undertook the financial due diligence, provided mostly verbal reports, and written materials were not left with the City of Saskatoon.”

In response to a follow-up query, the city clerk on June 29, 2010, confirmed that this applies to any final reports that Deloitte may have prepared as well. So, in other words, the city hired Deloitte to do a job, but didn’t bother to keep any copies of the reports that the firm produced.

These stunning facts were never included in any city administrative report or reported in the media. What it means is that with no paper trail there is no accountability – not to administration or city council. It also subverts the freedom of information process. Deloitte & Touche are not subject to the province’s freedom of information legislation. When their representatives walked out of city hall with the “written materials” the public’s right to apply for access to those records went with them. It’s inexcusable. What’s scary is that city council and administration appear to be okay with it.

Two councillors voted against the latest sale agreement with Lake Placid: Charlie Clark and Pat Lorje. Lorje appears to be one of the only council members willing to say anything of substance about the results of the due diligence process. In an email on June 18th, presumably to constituents and other interested parties, Lorje outlined what she called her “Top Ten List of City Council decisions, comments and queries” from the June 14 meeting. Lorje had this to say about the Lake Placid decision:

“I am not going to go into the arguments of whether or not the land should have been sold for less than market value, or whether it would be better to have broken the land up into smaller pieces. I am simply going to say that I carefully read the financial due diligence report prepared for Council by the nationally respected accounting firm Deloitte. I am not comfortable with the level of risk that they reported to us. Because of a confidentiality agreement, and because I’m already facing a law suit over the Barry Hotel, I can not and will not say anything more about the details of that due diligence. I will only repeat that I was not satisfied with the risk posed by going forward. Perhaps, and hopefully for all the eternal optimists out there, I will eventually be proven wrong. But I know what I heard from Deloitte, and I could not, in good conscience, despite the involvement of locally respected Karim Nassar, vote for this project.”

After reading this, it certainly becomes a lot clearer why council would want to make sure that there is no trail of bread crumbs leading back to its doorstep should the decision it made on June 14 blow up in its face.

There has been speculation that the developers involved do not have the financing in place to complete the project.

Sean Shaw, a geology researcher at the University of Saskatchewan who ran against Councillor Myles Heidt in Ward 4 last year, said in a blog posting on May 26, 2010, that according to a number of confidential sources familiar with the behind the scene details, the best the Lake Placid/Victory Majors partnership can come up with is the $50 million or so needed to build the underground parking structure.

“They have apparently pushed the City to allow the project to start with the expectation that with construction underway jittery investors would be finally willing to sign off on the remaining $150-250 million financing required to build the actual hotel/retail/condo development,” Shaw said.

The city and developers have not confirmed or denied this. And even though they apparently know about it, the StarPhoenix hasn’t reported it.

Public notice for closed-door executive committee meeting

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Premier Brad Wall and cabinet held closed-door meeting with Saskatchewan Construction Association prior to drafting Bill 80

AEEL Minister Rob Norris (center)
with SCA president Michael Fougere (right)
at private meeting on Nov. 26, 2008

Fougere making presentation to cabinet on Nov. 26, 2008

Three months prior to introducing amendments to the Construction Industry Labour Relations Act, Advanced Education, Employment and Labour (AEEL) Minister Rob Norris wrote to the Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA) basically telling them not to worry about a recent Labour Relations Board decision affecting the construction industry, the government would take care of it.

“I understand your concerns about the implications for this sector and appreciate the urgency in addressing the matter,” Norris said in a November 19, 2008, letter to association president Michael Fougere. “The Board is an impartial quasi-judicial tribunal that functions at arm’s length from government. It must operate free from influence in order to do its job fairly and successfully. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any cases currently before the Board, or on particular Board decisions.

“However, it is important to note that our government is committed to reviewing Saskatchewan’s labour legislation to ensure that it is fair and balanced and that it meets the needs of our growing economy.

“Thank you for bringing this important issue to my attention. Please be assured that it will be given our full consideration.”

Norris was responding to a hysterical letter from Fougere, dated October 10, 2008, railing against a September 23, 2008, decision by the LRB on the issue of abandonment involving the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 529, and Saunders Electric Ltd. (LRB 019-05). The board ruled in favour of the union and required the company to pay union dues dating back to 1984.

Fougere said the decision of the board has major implications, not just for Saunders Electric, but for the entire construction industry.

“If not reversed, this decision will have a chilling effect on investment and economic development across our province,” he said. “The SCA and our member companies are demanding a quick and final remedy to this unprecedented threat to our industry and our members.”

The SCA called on the government to “quickly establish abandonment rules” and “end the monopoly of the Building Trades in the construction industry.”

“The decision of the LRB is one of the most serious threats to our industry and, by extension, to the provincial economy,” Fougere said. “The SCA is calling on the government to make the necessary legislative changes to bring balance and fairness to our industry by implementing fair abandonment rules and ensuring the freedom of choice for employees to choose which union they wish to represent their interests.”

Fougere requested “an immediate meeting” with Norris and his officials “as a first step in resolving the issues facing” the construction industry.

Fougere didn’t have to wait long to get his meeting.

According to a November 2008 newsletter posted on the organizations website, the association had “received confirmation” that Premier Brad Wall and the provincial cabinet would meet with the lobby group’s board of directors on November 26, 2008.

“These meetings offer the construction industry a huge opportunity to have influence on government programs, polices, and spending priorities,” the newsletter said.

In the December 2008 newsletter the association declared the private meeting “a great success.” Among the issues “raised directly with the Cabinet” was: “The government must provide more balanced and fair labour legislation, including allowing for abandonment of old inactive union agreements after 3 years.”

A news release issued by the SCA includes a photo of Norris at the meeting speaking with Fougere.

On March 10, 2009, Norris introduced Bill 80, an Act to amend The Construction Industry Labour Relations Act, 1992, giving the SCA what it wanted and then some.

A government news release said the proposed changes will allow a trade union to organize a company on a multi-trade, or “all employee” basis, as well as on a craft, or single trade basis. It will enable any trade union to certify an employer and allow employers to choose the REO that will represent them. It will also permit an employer operating outside an REO to negotiate a collective agreement for the duration of a specific project.

The labour board will have the authority to investigate complaints that a union has abandoned its bargaining rights; and the right to revoke a union’s certification on the basis of an abandonment claim.

The amendments were introduced without any prior public debate or stakeholder consultation.

The Wall government later conducted five days of public hearings on Bill 80 – four in June 2009 and one in November 2009.

SCA president Michael Fougere appeared before the legislature’s human services committee on June 17, 2009, in support of the bill, but did not mention his organization’s closed-door meeting with cabinet. Other groups appearing before the committee that lobbied for changes include the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, PCL Construction Management Inc., and Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), an employer friendly, pseudo union trying to gain a foothold in the province.

The hearings would turn out to be a total sham.

In an interview with StarPhoenix reporter James Wood on October 5, 2009, Norris said he was “not opposed to amendments” to Bill 80 but, “the spirit of the legislation -- that is to ensure we have a more competitive Construction Industry Labour Relations Act and a more competitive construction industry within Saskatchewan, that we’re offering greater choice -- . . . those seem to me the fundamentals.” [Gov’t rejects construction unions’ proposal (StarPhoenix, October 6, 2009)]

In other words, regardless of the concerns raised, the legislation would likely remain unchanged.

On April 22, 2010, the StarPhoenix published an insightful op-ed by John D. Whyte, a professor of law at the University of Saskatchewan and the former deputy minister of justice and attorney general from 1997-2002, that, for once, presented the public with a view that was free from the Wall government’s and business and industry association’s propaganda machine.

There are good reasons for bargaining between comprehensive employer groups and unions that represent specific crafts or trades instead of having a single union represent all the employees at a specific firm or worksite, Whyte said.

“First, system-wide bargaining means that the constant changes in workforce size and workers’ place of work don’t require constant reorganization of unions or repeated certification application. Second, a craft-based union system means that unions can -- and do -- take responsibility for training and developing a skilled workforce.

“Third, craft unions have strong national networks that facilitate the migration of skilled workers to places such as Saskatchewan, where they are needed. Finally, under the system-wide model, labour relations in Saskatchewan’s construction sector have been stable and disruption free.”

Whyte didn’t buy Norris’s justification that the new law is in keeping with developments in constitutional law.

“In fact,” Whyte said. “The Supreme Court of Canada has recently articulated constitutional principles that should apply to labour relations. Far from justifying the plan in Bill 80 to undermine the established structure for the construction industry, the principles enunciated by the high court support the existing arrangement.”

There are two aspects to constitutionally protected collective bargaining, Whyte explained.

“The first prevents interference with the process of collective bargaining that affects “the capacity of the union members to come together to pursue goals in concert.” The second relates to the degree of impact on the “collective right to good faith negotiation and consultation.”

Whyte says Bill 80 clearly harms the ability of construction workers to pursue their interests in concert; it unravels current agreements and arrangements, and subjects to the vacillations of construction employment the process of collective bargaining and the benefits gained from it.

“In addition, the retroactive features of Bill 80 undermine good faith bargaining,” he noted.

“The Supreme Court also stated that the constitutional right to collective bargaining will be shaped by circumstances, so that different regulatory arrangements will be needed to meet the obligation.

“Consequently, it cannot be claimed without reservation that Bill 80’s changes are unconstitutional. What can be said, though, is that the harmful impact on workers’ interests makes the bill suspect, and that its changes cannot be justified on the grounds that they are constitutionally mandated.”

Whyte goes on to say that in two instances the proposed reforms give employers the ability to overturn labour arrangements that have been agreed upon and are in current operation. Thus, Bill 80 operates retroactively to remove established rights.

“There is an absolute constitutional prohibition against retroactive criminal legislation, while retroactive changes to civil legal relations are also considered a legislative offence.”

Whyte continued to hammer away at the legislation saying the provisions of Bill 80 allow individual employers to recognize any union (including employer-sympathetic unions). “At that point, existing employer obligations under the present collective bargaining arrangement could be removed,” he said.

“Second, employers can ask the Labour Relations Board to declare that currently certified unions have abandoned collective bargaining if, at any time in the past, they did not engage in worker representation for three years. Since this rule applies even to an employer who has had no relevant craft employees for three years (which has been common in Saskatchewan's construction industry) this can become a significant weapon for dismantling the existing and fair structure for construction industry labour relations.”

Whyte concludes that if the government’s priorities are stable relations between construction employers and their workers, concern for the rights and interests of employees, and to sustain constitutional integrity, it has badly missed the mark.

“It has chosen instead to be influenced by the mistaken idea that the freer the labour market, the better it is for workers and the economy,” he said. [Bill 80 reforms aren’t panacea gov’t envisions (StarPhoenix, April 22, 2010)]

It’s interesting to note that no one from the provincial government, construction industry or business community rebutted Whyte’s analysis.

Ignoring criticism, no matter how legitimate, the Wall government pushed ahead with the badly flawed and unnecessary labour law.

On May 5, 2010, Norris revealed to reporters that the government was prepared to pass Bill 80 as is and would not wait for the report from the human services committee on the public hearings held last year.

According to StarPhoenix reporter James Wood, Norris said he has a good sense of what took place during the public hearings.

“I think certainly based on the public consultations that have gone on, very extensive and very public, if and as the committee proceeds, and we will see how it proceeds, we’re comfortable in moving forward,” he said.

Wood reported that while much of the testimony at the hearings was in opposition to the legislation, the government will pass Bill 80, essentially unchanged from when it was first introduced, by the end of the spring sitting of the legislature.

Norris acknowledged there are stakeholders opposed to the bill, but the government believes it “will serve the public interest of this province.”

In an interview with Wood at the legislature, Terry Parker, business manager of the Saskatchewan Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council, said the committee hearings now look to be a waste of taxpayers’ dollars and the participants’ time.

“From what the minister was saying, it sounds like they were going to go ahead regardless and the whole committee process was a sham,” Parker said.

Parker, who met with Norris the previous evening, showed Wood a September 2009 letter from Norris to one of the council’s affiliated unions that said: “I can assure you that the contents of the report of the standing committee . . . will be studied by Ministry officials to identify the implications of the recommendations.” [Gov’t to move ahead with Bill 80 (StarPhoenix, May 6, 2010)]

The Wall government passed Bill 80 on May 19, 2010, the second last day of the spring legislative session.

The Leader-Post’s Angela Hall reported that representatives of business groups who came to the legislature to see the bill’s passage applauded the changes, with SCA president Michael Fougere thanking the government for its “political courage.”

“This is ground-breaking legislation. What we see is a monopoly that will be disbanded . . . this is for more competition within the building trades industry and that’s a good thing for everyone,” Fougere told reporters. [Gov’t passes Bill 80, land sale amendment (StarPhoenix, May 20, 2010)]

The cozy relationship between the Wall government and SCA appears to be for the long term. In its May 2010 newsletter the association announced that its board would meet with Premier Wall and the provincial cabinet on May 26, 2010. The private gabfest is now being touted as a yearly event.

“This annual meeting provides a great opportunity for your association to lobby the government and further the interests of our membership,” the newsletter says.

In contrast, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), which represents over 95,000 members, from 37 national and international unions, has been shunned by the premier. When asked if the labour group has ever met with Wall and cabinet, SFL president Larry Hubich said no.

“The SFL has never had a private meeting with Premier Wall and his cabinet to discuss labour issues. Nor have we ever had a meeting with Wall and his cabinet to discuss any matter,” Hubich said in an email on June 1, 2010.

Hubich wrote to Wall in 2008, on behalf of the SFL executive council, and requested a meeting with him and the cabinet to discuss issues important to labour, but was instead assigned to meet with a caucus committee headed up by Saskatchewan Party MLA Glen Hart.

“That is the only time that the SFL executive council (as an organization) has had a meeting with any of the Sask. Party members, except once Rob Norris came to meet with the SFL executive at our regular meeting,” Hubich said.

Wall can make time to meet with industry associations and business lobby groups, yet refuses to extend the same courtesy to labour. And people wonder why there is so much animosity between the two.

In the Journal of Commerce, Western Canada’s construction newspaper, on May 31, 2010, Parker said the negative impacts of Bill 80 are already being seen in the province.

“All the contracts for our affiliates expired on April 30,” he said.

“The contractors’ association is already looking for concessions to the contract to compete with CLAC (Christian Labour Association of Canada) and the contractors, which include PCL and Ledcor.” [Saskatchewan contractors applaud new labour legislation (Journal of Commerce, May 31, 2010)]

PCL is a major contributor to the Saskatchewan Party. Financial statements filed with Elections Saskatchewan show that for the seven year period from 2003 to 2009 the company donated $54,965.75 to the political party. Additionally, PCL’s Saskatchewan District Manager, Kris Hildebrand, currently serves on the SCA board representing the Regina region.

Alberta-based construction giant Ledcor CMI Ltd. appeared before the human services committee on June 18, 2009. Tom Brown, senior vice president of operations, told the committee that the company has used CLAC “exclusively” for the past 20 years.

As a construction company there was nothing to prevent Ledcor from coming to Saskatchewan, but since CLAC was not allowed to organize in the province the company chose to stay away.

While Ledcor is a “union contractor” that “could sign contracts with the building trades,” Brown said it was “not in our corporate best interests” to do so.

Brown was basically saying that if they came to Saskatchewan they’d bring CLAC with them.

“Our intention would be, I suspect . . . And I’m not a labour relations practitioner. I’m an operations guy essentially. But we would likely enter voluntary recognitions with CLAC, and establish unique-to-Saskatchewan collective agreements.”

Well, so much for the Wall government’s bogus spin that Bill 80 was meant to benefit workers more so than employers.

Appearing before the human services committee on June 24, 2009, Labour Minister Rob Norris confirmed that Ledcor, along with CLAC and SCA, were among the organizations that lobbied the government for changes in the construction industry legislation.

Looking back, it’s clear now that the fix was in from the beginning. It appears Bill 80 was virtually written by the SCA, the provincial chamber of commerce and contributors to the Saskatchewan Party. The Wall government never intended to consult with all stakeholders and front-line workers in a meaningful way.

SCA news release on Nov. 26, 2008 meeting with cabinet