Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall: Who is he and do we want such an abysmally unaware person as premier of Saskatchewan?

The Saskatchewan Party recently launched a redesigned website and in the process appears to have removed – without explanation – the speeches given by party leader Brad Wall since 2004. These include:

2007 Saskatchewan Party Leader’s Dinner, Regina
April 24, 2007

2007 Saskatchewan Party Leader’s Dinner, Saskatoon
March 8, 2007

2006 Saskatchewan Party Leader’s Dinner, Regina
April 4, 2006

2006 Saskatchewan Party Leader’s Dinner, Saskatoon
March 2, 2006

2006 Saskatchewan Party Annual Convention
Keynote Address, February 11, 2006

2005 Saskatchewan Party Annual Convention
Keynote Address, February 5, 2005

2005 Saskatchewan Party Leader’s Dinner, Saskatoon
March 2, 2005

2004 Saskatchewan Party Leader’s Dinner, Calgary
November 25, 2004

Additionally, the old homepage used to contain a prominent link to the Saskatchewan Party Policy Book. This has been deleted and the document buried deep within the site. It can now be found via the following path: Home>Team>The Party

The link to the document is at the bottom of the page and reads:

February 6, 2005 - A policy renewal package is debated and passed by party membership at the 2005 Annual Convention.”

With the election underway the level of public scrutiny has increased. As a result it seems the Saskatchewan Party buried some documents and removed others completely. The policy book is probably the one crucial document that should be read. It, along with the December 8, 2005, speech given by Wall to the North Saskatoon Business Association (still available on the Sask. Party Caucus website), give a good indication of what damage can be expected should the party form the next government. That the party is making it hard to find says a lot.

Below is a great article on Brad Wall by John F. Conway that appeared in Planet S Magazine a few months after the 2003 provincial election. Conway’s observations and concerns then are just as valid today. Wall’s “life before politics” bio is still short on meaningful detail and the media bias in favour of the party remains.

Planet S Magazine, April 15, 2004

Wall’s World
by John F. Conway

Brad Wall’s official biography – which you can find posted on his website, – is not packed with information. Indeed, what’s most interesting about it is its conspicuous lack of detail.

But certain things are well known about Wall – and they don’t cast the newly-crowned leader of the official opposition in a positive light. Now that Wall is officially leading the Saskatchewan Party into battle against the NDP, it’s worth taking another look at Saskatchewan’s Great Right Hope.

Ideologically, Wall is a fanatical free enterpriser who backs private sector solutions to social problems. For example, in a press scrum on the day he was acclaimed as leader, he suggested that innovative free enterprisers could solve the problems (presumably financial) of single parent mothers. I’m not clear on how that’s supposed to work; perhaps Wall figures when someone in difficult circumstances is left alone by the nanny state (presumably by having the government programs and supports that make their lives manageable slashed), they’ll be better able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

The mind boggles at this insightful social policy idea.

Then there’s his stance on the crowns. As Crown Corporations critic before the last election, Wall was a leading advocate of privatization, lamenting that “profligate government intervention in the economy” leads to “lost opportunities,” and insisting “private sector investment drives economic growth.”

One presumes that crown activities somehow do not constitute economic activity or growth in Wall’s world. This makes sense, given his ideology; if there is no private profit there clearly can be no economic activity going on.

Ironically, while Brad Wall’s entire adult life has been driven by a devotion to extremely conservative politics, most of his working life has been devoted to political rather than entrepreneurial jobs. Sucking on the public nipple rather than engaging in the risk-taking, swashbuckling, private sector activity he constantly extols has characterized most of his working life. In a sense, in his political speeches, Wall bites the breast that feeds him.


After graduating from university, Brad Wall went off to work for Tory MP Geoff Wilson in Ottawa, where he co-founded the Alliance for the Future of Young Canadians – a rabidly pro-Free Trade lobby organization with strong links to the Mulroney Tories and the corporate sector. He then returned to Saskatchewan to work in the Devine government as executive assistant to Tory cabinet minister John Gerich. After Devine’s defeat in 1991, Wall unsuccessfully contested the Tory nomination in Swift Current. In the 1990s he served as Swift Current’s economic development officer until 1999, when he was elected as the riding’s Sask. Party MLA.

In all these jobs, his income came from the public purse (except, perhaps, the lobby work for free trade, which likely came from the corporate sector).

There is one exception. Brad Wall’s website biography proudly notes, “Brad’s entrepreneurial background [??!!] led him to establish the Last Stand Adventure Company, an adventure travel enterprise that promotes Saskatchewan tourism and the rich western heritage of Southwest Saskatchewan to a growing market in Europe.”

Here, finally, was evidence of Wall’s real world business acumen. A Google search led to a one-page site that revealed a handful of guests at the Martens ranch were happy with the experience. But there is no indication how successful the business has been, or the role Wall played in it or continues to play in it.

So Brad Wall helped set up a dude ranch for Europeans. Huh. Excellent credentials for running the province.

This is just another example of the unnerving lack of detail in Wall’s official and obviously sanitized biography. Furthermore, the biography is evasive, as if Wall had something to hide. Thus Wall’s work for the Mulroney government and Tory MP Wilson becomes “working in federal politics on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.” And Wall’s work as executive assistant for Gerich in the Devine government becomes “two years working at the Legislature in Regina.”

The established media in Saskatchewan, cheerleaders for the Saskatchewan Party that they are, aren’t doing anything to let Saskatchewanians know who Brad Wall really is, either. They’re so busy puffing up Wall by putting an incredibly positive spin on the man they want to replace Calvert, that they neglect their duty to inform the public. Why are no investigative journalists digging up more on Brad Wall? What is the story on the dude ranch? What about the free trade front group in Ottawa, who funded it and did it say?

And, perhaps, most importantly, what is the Brad Wall story in the Devine government?

Brad Wall worked for John Gerich, Devine’s caucus whip and associate minister of economic development and tourism. As caucus whip, Gerich was one of the key architects of the fraud scheme, christened Operation Fiddle by the RCMP, that defrauded the public purse of $837,000. Gerich personally profited from the elaborate scheme. It involved false invoices and an elaborate money-laundering trail which took public funds through numbered companies, then back into the pockets of the individuals involved. There were also envelopes of crisp hundred dollars bills distributed off the books to cabinet ministers and selected caucus employees.

Gerich went to jail for two years less a day for his sins. The judge sternly reprimanded him at sentencing. “Political corruption is endemic to Latin American countries, Asian jurisdictions, and perhaps Eastern European jurisdictions, but never has it been seriously suggested that corruption permeates Canadian politics – at least until a fraud of this scale was revealed,” he said.

Brad Wall was never charged. And it’s doubtful he got any of the envelopes of hundred dollar bills. But did he not notice anything was amiss in this maelstrom of false invoices, secret meetings, envelopes of cash in which his boss was a central player? Was he asked to shred documents? What is the story about his two years in the doomed Devine administration, given his job as executive assistant to one of the key actors in the fraud? Perhaps he knew nothing, noticed nothing. Perhaps he was blithely unaware that he worked daily in a cesspool of corruption. Fair enough. But do we want such an abysmally unaware person as premier of Saskatchewan?


At 7:45 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

'But do we want such an abysmally unaware person as premier of Saskatchewan?'

We have one already.

At 5:23 PM, Blogger The NDP Boogeyman said...

You use John Conway as your source?

Either admit you're totally partisan or totally obtuse.

Meanwhile you and Hubich are doing great things to the NDP by revealing their cover-up.

With friends like you two...


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