Sunday, January 27, 2008

Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz says firings about towing the party line, more to come; Premier Brad Wall betrays own words from Aug. 2007 letter

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall & Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz

“It’s so nice to have a conservative party in power in Saskatchewan. They call themselves the Saskatchewan Party, but they’re really Conservatives, aren’t they?”
– Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein at the Saskatchewan Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs corporate banquet on Jan. 23, 2008, at TCU Place in Saskatoon.
The Saskatchewan Party has finally gotten around to putting into words what many people have suspected, that the recent spate of civil service firings by the government had little to do with how people were doing their job it was blind ideology that was driving the process.

Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz confirmed as much following the announcement on Jan. 24 that as many as 70 civil servants were getting the axe.

“The dismissals are not about how people did their jobs,” said Krawetz. “It’s all about people that can tow the party line.”

“They are all being let go without any reason or cause,” said Krawetz. [Civil Servants Fired By New Saskatchewan Government (, Jan. 25, 2008)]

The positions included communication staff, associate deputy ministers and senior Crown corporation executives.

The fallout from this idiocy was immediate.

In 70 civil servants let go by the government (Leader-Post, Jan. 25, 2008) it was reported that Ken Rasmussen, director of the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina, “is calling it a purge that flies in the face of Wall’s election night proclamation that the Nov. 7 vote was a case of hope triumphing over fear.”

“This government hasn’t done anything yet. How would you know what kind of advice they’re getting from the public service?” asked Ken Rasmussen, director of the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina.

“Somebody at some point needs to say this is not good. It’s destructive for the professional civil service. It’s not helpful for the people of Saskatchewan and it’s not acceptable.”

“This is banana republic stuff,” Rasmussen said.

“This has reverberations, too. People who might want to stick their neck out and take a leadership role in the public service will say: ‘Nah, I don’t think so’.”

Krawetz insisted that all the dismissals were handled with a great deal of sensitivity.

The articles notes that “Including the 155 political staff dismissed by the out-going NDP government and eight deputy ministers, this brings the total number of people who have loss their jobs since the election of the new Saskatchewan Party government to an estimated 233.”

Apparently the bloodletting isn’t over.

In Sask. Party axes dozens of jobs (Globe and Mail, Jan. 24, 2008) Jennifer Graham of the Canadian Press reported that there are also hints that the number will grow.

“Will the process continue? It will,” said Mr. Krawetz.

“It’s not a finite number because there will be changes, but the bulk of the transition will have been completed with these changes,” he said.

Krawetz acknowledged that there could be more job losses in the spring when the provincial budget is unveiled and ministries are restructured.

“But those changes aren’t part of transition,” he insisted.

The StarPhoenix editorial board called the government’s actions “witch hunting” and said “Krawetz’s admission that some of those who were recently fired were let go because the transition team deemed that they didn’t fit with the direction and philosophy of the government, not because of their overt political biases, is stunning.” [Post-election witch hunting must be ended (StarPhoenix, Jan. 26, 2008)]

In Gov’t firings cross dangerous line (StarPhoenix, Jan. 26, 2008) political columnist Murray Mandryk said “the premier has gone over the line with the recent dismissals -- a highly disturbing development.”

Mandryk added “as near as I can tell by the names I’ve heard of the 70 people dismissed, only about a quarter fit the profile of being actively and blatantly political. Perhaps another quarter falls into a grey area of being former NDP ministerial assistants or party supporters who are no longer active and likely got their jobs through legitimate competition.

“However, at least half of these dismissals appear to be lifelong civil servants with no political connections.

“And it’s here that Wall and deputy premier Ken Krawetz, head of the transition team, have significantly upped the ante. They are taking partisanship of the civil service to a place where it ought not go.”

“Personal vendettas appear to be at work,” said Mandryk, and “most disturbing of all…Krawetz is now talking about the need for civil servants to be philosophically compatible with the Wall government” and that “is dangerous.”

“Wall needs to stop partisanship in the civil service, not make it worse.”

This provides a nice segue back to August 30, 2007, and Sask. Party Leader Brad Wall’s letter to the editor of the Leader-Post, which was in response to an Aug. 23 op-ed by political scientist Ken Rasmussen on the post-election public service.

In How SaskParty views civil service, Wall said “Maintaining a professional and nonpartisan public service is in the best interest of all Saskatchewan people.”

“As Rasmussen accurately states, a new government should not assume that, just because members of the civil service have worked closely under the previous administration, they are not able to implement the new government's program. I agree,” Wall said.

As for changes in the civil service Wall said “These decisions should be based on merit, not patronage or partisan politics.”

With this week’s purging Wall has betrayed his own words.

To add insult to injury a day after the firings and citing partisan ties to the NDP as the rationale in many cases, Krawetz said people with ties to the Saskatchewan Party will be among their likely replacements.

Krawetz also acknowledged that among the string of government appointments announced to the boards of the province’s Crown corporations on Jan. 25 that many of the new board chairs had connections with the Sask. Party. [Sask. Party prepared to bring in supporters (StarPhoenix, Jan. 26, 2008)]

Frankly, what did the media expect would happen when Brad Wall & Co. took over? It’s not like they weren’t warned but it seemed that every time someone spoke out against the Sask. Party they were derided as socialists or fear mongers.

Reprinted below are Brad Wall’s Aug. 30, 2007, letter to the editor of the Regina Leader-Post and Ken Rasmussen’s Aug. 23, 2007, op-ed.

How SaskParty views civil service

The Leader Post

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I would like to thank Ken Rasmussen for his commentary, "Our post- election public service," in the Aug. 23 Leader-Post. It provides the opportunity for a much-needed discussion on an issue of great importance. It also provides me with an opportunity to offer the Saskatchewan Party's vision for the public service should voters entrust us with leading Saskatchewan after the next provincial election.

Maintaining a professional and nonpartisan public service is in the best interest of all Saskatchewan people. In Saskatchewan, governments of all political stripes have benefited, and continue to benefit, from the long tradition of excellence within our civil service. That is why a Saskatchewan Party government would continue to foster a professional civil service that delivers efficient and effective programs within a culture of excellence and innovation.

One of the key decisions that must be made upon the election of a new government is the appointment of senior civil servants. The criteria for making such decisions cannot be simplistic. As Rasmussen accurately states, a new government should not assume that, just because members of the civil service have worked closely under the previous administration, they are not able to implement the new government's program. I agree.

All governments, whether new or old, make changes to the senior levels of the civil service as a normal course of activity. Such changes involve reassignment and/or promotion of senior officials, as well as recruitment of new faces into the senior civil service. These decisions should be based on merit, not patronage or partisan politics.

However, a new government is elected with a mandate to provide positive change. If there are some senior officials who are ideologically tied to the outgoing administration and therefore resist the new government's democratic mandate for change, then those individuals will need to be replaced. However, in the case of a Saskatchewan Party government, there will be no "wholesale purge", which Rasmussen noted has occurred after the last few changes in government.

As a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan public administration program, I am very aware of the Saskatchewan civil service's proud history and strong reputation for innovation and public policy leadership. It is my belief that the current NDP government has too often manipulated the civil service for short- term political gain, stifled innovation and overly politicized both department and Crown personnel decisions.

Should we be asked to form the next government, we intend to build upon the spirit of innovation, creativity and excellence in the civil service. We will work with institutions like the Johnson- Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina to offer educational opportunities to current civil servants and develop the next generation.

Additionally, we will undertake aggressive recruitment, promotion and succession planning to secure the future of Saskatchewan's civil service.

A Saskatchewan Party government will ensure we take full advantage of the talents of our professional public service to fulfill Saskatchewan's tremendous potential.

Brad Wall

Wall is leader of the Saskatchewan Party.


© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2007

Our Post-Election Public Service

The Leader Post

Thursday, August 23, 2007

With talk of an election in the air, and, if the polls are to be believed, the possibility of a change in government, there inevitably come questions about what impact this would have on the public service in Saskatchewan. There are perennial concerns in this province that with any change of government there will be a wholesale purge of those seen to be closely associated with the previous regime in the senior ranks of the public service.

All Saskatchewan governments have had a poor record in this regard, and the prospect of a change in government creates much more anxiety in Saskatchewan than in Ottawa, where the norms of an independent, neutral and non-partisan public service are protected by a much stronger tradition of respect for the public service, but also by an independent Public Service Commission that has statutory and constitutional independence. Indeed most provincial governments have inadequate protection for their public services which creates too many opportunities for new governments to engage in the firing of senior officials from what should be a neutral and non-partisan organization serving the interests of citizens.

It is prudent in the lead up to a provincial election to remind all political parties that the public service in an effective and mature democratic society like Saskatchewan should be completely off limits to any government. The idea behind the conventions associated with our system of government are that the public service provides frank and fearless advice to ministers, warns them of the potential problems associated with their policy ideas, and ensures that the new government's policy priorities get implemented as effectively as possible. In return, a new government will respect the professionalism of the public service, maintain the anonymity of public servants and not blame or name public servants when errors occur, but rather will accept responsibility in the legislative assembly for all the actions of the government of Saskatchewan.

A major obstacle in respecting the neutrality of the public service often emerges when a government has served for a long period of time, such as the current NDP administration, which has governed for over 15 years. There is natural suspicion that the public service has, at best, become closely associated with the thinking of the previous administration, or worst, is filled with partisans; or alternatively the public service is simply as tired and as bereft of ideas as the government that was defeated. The desire to replace individuals is tempting, especially by highly partisan politicians who have spent years in opposition. Such individuals may find anyone's claim of neutrality hard to accept.

As tempting as it might be for a new government to think like this, it would be a mistake and any attempt to fire existing public servants will put the province back in time, make it harder for the new government to implement its policies, make it more difficult to recruit talented young people into the career public service, and create growing cynicism on the part of an already cynical electorate.

First, Saskatchewan needs to move past the bad old days and ensure that the public service is treated not as a source for patronage, but as the professional, skilled and well-trained body that it is. Public servants understand what their role is in the system and as long as they conform to these expectations and provide loyal and energetic support to the new government they are fulfilling their role in this system.

Secondly, any new government needs to move quickly on its agenda and has as little as 18 months to accomplish many of the promises and commitments made in the election before a new election cycle beings. Damaging the public service, creating apprehension and fear, and bringing in inexperienced and unqualified individuals, will make this much job much more difficult. It also will make it harder to recruit talented young college graduates looking for a career that is completely open to talent and free from all imputation of partisanship.

Finally, the population has grown cynical and highly attuned to the problem of patronage and its association with corruption. Wholesale firing and patronage appointments will only worsen the already low opinion that many citizens have about their institutions. The core public service should be completely off limits to any sort of partisan appointment or dismissal. The lesson of the Harper government in Ottawa is illustrative in that not a single deputy minister or other senior official was fired upon taking office and "Canada's new government" has found all of its public service leadership from within the existing public service.

Any government is capable of shifting around the responsibilities of senior officials once it is elected, making effective matches between deputies and ministers, promoting new individuals to the deputy ranks, reassigning others and recruiting skilled staff from other jurisdictions or other organizations into senior positions. All of these actions are legitimate and often welcome.

Yet it would be a grave mistake for any government to fire a single senior official. Such actions, even one, are enough to create an environment of fear and distrust that will take years to overcome, and expose a new government to charges of tampering with the professional public service. It would sow dissension within the public service and expose Saskatchewan as one of the last bastions of a politicized public service in Canada. It is also extremely expensive and results in governments paying millions of dollars as a result of severance and wrongful dismissal law suits.

One can hope that whoever forms the government after the next election will see fit to end this aspect of Saskatchewan's political culture. It is high time for Saskatchewan public service to be seen by all political leaders as a neutral, non-partisan resource dedicated to promoting the agenda of whatever party forms the government of Saskatchewan.

There will be many individuals watching what happens, both within the province and across the country. One hopes that Saskatchewan will enter a new era, where government respects the independence of the public service and is in turn offered loyalty and dedication by professionals in the public service who have an enormous role to play in ensuring that the province continues to develop and prosper.

- Rasmussen is director, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina.

© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2007

Friday, January 25, 2008

River Landing: City of Saskatoon failed to record details of crucial meetings regarding Parcel “Y”; Lake Placid Investments refuses to release EOI

It’s bad enough that the City of Saskatoon and Meewasin Valley Authority appear to be turning a blind eye to a proposed development on Parcel “Y” at River Landing that does not seem to comply with the Expressions of Interest (EOI) that was issued last year or the DCD1 zoning guidelines, but now comes the revelation that the city failed to keep meaningful records of two crucial committee meetings that took place to evaluate the EOI’s and subsequent Request for Proposals (RFP).

According to documents released by the city under the Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, an administrative committee comprised of eight civic officials met on June 18, 2007, to evaluate the two EOI that were submitted for Parcel “Y”. The committee met again on September 10, 2007, to evaluate the RFP submitted by Lake Placid Investments Inc. Both meetings were conducted in the city manager’s boardroom.

With respect to the meetings the city’s January 17, 2008, response states: “There were no minutes taken of the administrative review committee, since it met only once on each occasion and submitted its report to Council immediately thereafter. The two reports to Council are, in effect, the record of the administrative committee’s evaluation of the bid(s).”

The report from the city manager concerning the EOI evaluation (F1 – EOI Selection and RFP for River Landing Parcel “Y”) that was considered by city council at its June 25, 2007, meeting was short and provided no meaningful information. The report states:
“The administrative committee conducted an evaluation based on the evaluation criteria and the information requirements of the EOI. The evaluation has found that both scored sufficiently to proceed to the RFP stage. The review indicated that Lake Placid and WAM/Concorde Group have captured the vision, land-use mix, and scale outlined in the EOI and have demonstrated the appropriate financial capacity.

The administrative committee consisted of City Manager Phil Richards, Corporate Services General Manager Marlys Bilanski, Development Services Branch Manager Randy Grauer, Senior Planner Alan Wallace, Planning Branch Manager Lorne Sully, Land Branch Manager Rick Howse, and Special Projects Manager Chris Dekker. The City Solicitor’s Office served as consultants to the review.”
Section 4.0 of the May 1, 2007 EOI states: “Proponents will be evaluated and scored to obtain a shortlist.”

Section 13.0 of the EOI outlines the evaluation criteria and notes that “the City will use a point system as a guide. Information that will be used as criteria for evaluation has been identified in Section 5.0 “Information to be Submitted”.”

This includes such things as company profile, financial information, development and management experience and concept summary and references.

The criteria and their point rating are summarized as follows:

Development and Management Experience – 30 points
Development Concept Summary – 60 points
References – 10 points
Total 100 points

The city manager’s report states that the administrative committee found that both the Lake Placid and WAM/Concorde Group EOI “scored sufficiently to proceed to the RFP stage” but provided no specific details to support that claim.

It would appear that no record exists showing the scoring for the two EOI. No minutes were taken and no formal detailed report was prepared by the committee. If any such record does exist it was not included in the package sent by the city. The level of accountability is nil.

According to a September 18, 2007, email from city administration the executive committee, which is composed of all members of council with the mayor sitting as chair, “did not review, evaluate or even see any of the EOIs.”

The entire evaluation process of the Parcel “Y” EOI seems to have been conducted in a vacuum. There is no paper trail. All that exists from the process is a nondescript 60-word paragraph in the city manager’s report to council for its June 25, 2007, meeting.

Unfortunately, according to the city’s January 17, 2008, cover letter both it and the developer, Lake Placid Investments Inc., are refusing to release the EOI. It appears that neither party is interested in having the document undergo public scrutiny. What is it they don’t want people to know?

As for the evaluation of the RFP the administrative committee kept no minutes of its meeting but did submit a short report to city council for its September 17, 2007, meeting. However, it appears to have misled the public.

The report from the city manager (F1 – River Landing Parcel “Y” – Lake Placid Investments Inc. Proposal Evaluation) claims that: “The submission addressed all criteria requested in the RFP and demonstrates a great deal of effort and investment.”

Section 5.1 of the RFP outlined the point scoring system the city used in evaluating the Lake Placid submission. It states:
“The criteria identify the most important elements of the project. Council has expressed a priority list as referenced in Section 5.7 of the Request for Expressions of Interest which includes:

Priority 1 Essential Elements (must be in proposal)

Street-level retail


Destination attraction/public gathering place

Priority 2 Important Elements (additional points scored)

Residential housing


Public parking in addition to requirements under DCD1 (additional parking allocated for public use in conjunction with a permitted use under DCD1)

Priority 3 Allowable Uses (no additional points scored)

All other uses allowed under DCD1”
Of the 100 total points available the ‘mix of proposed uses’ was worth 40. The city assigned the Lake Placid proposal a score of 37 saying that it “meets and exceeds City Council’s priorities outlined in the RFP.”

“A new restaurant, extensive retail, a public plaza, boutique hotel, office space, a health facility (open to the public via membership), extra public parking, and residential opportunities offer a great range of uses which will promote activity on the street,” notes the report.

The problem, however, is that the Lake Placid proposal does not appear to contain one of the mandatory priority one essential elements.

The EOI issued on May 1, 2007, required a “destination attraction/gathering place.” The EOI stated that the destination attraction’s purpose is “to build on the downtown’s role as the cultural heart of the city by the development of cultural facilities which can improve economic prospects and encourage tourism.”

It should be noted that the terms “destination attraction” and “cultural facility” does not seem to appear anywhere in the Lake Placid proposal.

The public component of Lake Placid’s hotel-office-residential complex consists of a raised plaza that includes a skating rink in the winter and a reflecting pool in the summer. A waterfall is also proposed. The developer describes this as “its main feature” on page 25 in its proposal. These, however, are not cultural facilities and do not constitute the required destination attraction.

Furthermore, it also appears that the proposed uses are not permitted under the DCD1 zoning guidelines. The DCD1 clearly state that the “only permitted uses” are interpretive centres, theatres, heritage facilities, museums, art galleries, amphitheatres, display space, events programming, tour offices, box offices and public institutional offices.

It’s interesting to note that office space is listed last in city council’s list of priorities for Parcel “Y”.

The city has thus far refused to explain why the mandatory destination attraction does not seem to be included in the Lake Placid proposal, but the less desirable office space is. This leads to the question, how did the Lake Placid proposal proceed beyond the EOI stage when it perhaps should have been disqualified?

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.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

River Landing: Destination Centre Consultation Process too little, too late; Saskatoon city council to rely once again on regressive Open House format

4 years, 1 month, 20 days.

That’s the time it has taken Saskatoon city council from it’s infamous closed-door Gathercole Planning Session on November 25, 2003, at the Western Development Museum, to its regular meeting on January 14, 2008, to come to the realization that maybe, just maybe, it might be a good idea to ask the public what it would like to see built on the former Gathercole site now known as River Landing Phase I.

At its Jan. 14 meeting council resolved to conduct what it believes will be a “genuine” public consultation process regarding the land surrounding the present Persephone Theatre.

The city manager’s report to council (F2 – River Landing Destination Centre Consultation Process) outlines the “objectives” that will “guide the planning and consultation process for the destination centre.”

“The process should provide for genuine community input and help create sense of community ownership for the preferred concept” and the “process should be as economic as possible – limiting initial expenditures until there is confidence in a preferred concept.”

Council intends to appoint a nine person volunteer steering committee comprised of one member of Council, one member from the MVA, representatives from the business community, tourism, arts, cultural and heritage sectors, and First Nations.

“The Committee shall be tasked by Council to make a recommendation on a preferred outline concept for the Destination Centre including uses, size, capital cost and potential funding sources, preliminary operating costs, how the Centre should be operated, and an implementation schedule. The Committee should complete this work within four months of its inception and provide a progress report to Council once a month,” the report notes.

“Rather than starting from a blank sheet and inviting the public to provide any and all ideas that may not withstand the simplest of criteria, City Council could establish a set of preliminary design and operating principles that set minimum standards and parameters that would guide the work of the Committee and the subsequent public input.”

The report states further that, “Council could also add other principles such as those relating to operations and funding.”

The consultation will apparently involve a four-stage process.

Stage 1: This would include an Open House with boards displaying simple site and potential building footprint plans, a site issues and opportunities analysis, and photos and examples of similar buildings from other communities. A questionnaire and interactive web site will also be used.

Stage 2: The Steering Committee will oversee the preparation of up to three concept options for the building, drawing on the Stage 1 public input.

Stage 3: A second Open House will be undertaken – this time over two days. The Open Houses will showcase the three identified options and invite public input. Questionnaires will be handed out plus an online questionnaire will be utilized.

Stage 4: The committee will compile and submit a report with recommendations to city council for consideration.

The final design for the project would be subject to a competitive Request for Proposals.

Unfortunately, what the city is proposing is too little, too late.

The consultation process involves just one piece of land, a small L-shaped parcel adjacent to Persephone Theatre. The 1.20-acre site is a fraction of the total Phase I development and will represent the only part to undergo anything close to resembling a legitimate public engagement process – but given the inferior format the city has decided to go with this might be overly generous.

The location of the Destination Centre is part of the South Downtown Concept Plan that city council quickly cobbled together behind closed-doors in early 2004 with the help of a $1,000-a-day consultant from Victoria, BC. The plan was tabled in draft form at council’s April 5, 2004, meeting. No meaningful public consultation took place during its development.

Open Houses occurred on April 27-28, 2004, from 4 – 9 p.m. to receive feedback from the public on a plan that it had no part in contributing to. The plan remained virtually unchanged and was approved by council on June 21, 2004.

River Landing is often touted as Saskatoon’s most visible and important development but has shamefully been afforded the least innovative, inclusive and accessible citizen engagement process.

Since 2004, the vast majority of ‘public consultation’ concerning the south downtown the city has engaged in has consisted primarily of Open Houses using information boards, questionnaires and staff milling about answering questions.

In contrast to that is the University Heights Multi-District Park comprehensive master planning process that took place a few years ago. More than a year of public meetings went into the process including the day-long Future Park Conference held on April 20, 2002, at St. Joseph High School to help the city develop a vision for the 36-acre project. Much of this work was done prior to any major decisions being made – the exact opposite of what happened at River Landing.

The lone genuine south downtown related public meeting that took place in which the city participated wasn’t even a city function. Due to serious concerns with the lack of citizen engagement a group of core neighbourhood community associations and stakeholders took it upon themselves to organize a Town Hall Meeting at Princess Alexandra School on June 2, 2004. It was well attended and proved very useful. In the end, however, the concerns raised by the community had little effect on the city’s clearly pre-determined outcome.

A more recent example of effective public consultation occurred on Saturday, March 17, 2007, when the city held a Public Input Meeting at the SIAST Kelsey Campus Cafeteria on the future use of the 50-metre pool located at the Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre. The format provided for an extensive question and answer session, breakout groups and follow-up discussion. This too was well attended and resulted in a good deal of quality information being brought forward.

Sadly, the city has chosen to adopt a more regressive approach when dealing with River Landing. No open and direct dialogue with citizens has taken place. There have been no design charrettes, public input, focus group or town hall meetings and no citizen involvement through working committees.

The steering committee envisioned for the Destination Centre Consultation Process leaves something to be desired and appears to be comprised largely of the same select few that have, at some point along the way, been involved in the closed-door planning of the south downtown.

The city’s continued ham-fisted approach to public involvement is most discouraging.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

River Landing: Saskatoon city council approves Lake Placid sale agreement; City and MVA compromise integrity of EOI/RFP process; cost jumps 20%

Saskatoon city council is forging ahead in its quest to force the development of an upscale “urban village” on the former Gathercole site despite the fact that the proposal being considered does not appear to comply with the city’s stated development and zoning requirements.

At its January 14, 2008, meeting council approved a sale agreement with Lake Placid River Landing Inc. for the sale and development of Parcel “Y” at River Landing Phase I.

According to the report from the city manager (F3 – Sale of Parcel “Y”, River Landing Phase I) the sale price of the 2.43 acre parcel of land is $4.765 million (as per the Request for Proposals).

The closing date for the sale (i.e. the date the land would be transferred to Lake Placid) is to be 20 business days after Lake Placid having fulfilled the following conditions precedent:

a) DCD1 approval by Council pursuant to s. 65 of The Planning and Development Act, 2007 (including entering into a DCD1 Development Agreement);

b) approval by the Meewasin Valley Authority under s. 20 of The Meewasin Valley Authority Act;

c) approval under the South Downtown Local Area Design Plan (architectural controls); and,

d) the issuance of a building permit for the footings and foundation of the development.

The report also notes that in the event that Lake Placid does not obtain the above approvals and permit by October 31, 2008, (or any agreed upon extension), and provided that it has been diligent in pursuing the approvals, the deposit would be refunded to Lake Placid and the agreement would be at an end.

The construction requirement is that on or before June 30, 2009, Lake Placid shall, as verified by the City, complete all excavation required for the construction of the development as indicated in the documentation filed by Lake Placid in support of its application for a building permit.

In the event Lake Placid did not comply with the construction requirement, the City has a 90-day option to re-purchase the site.

Unfortunately, after initially assuring the city it would seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accreditation the agreement acknowledges that Lake Placid will not be applying for accreditation for the building. However, Lake Placid will undertake to use reasonable efforts to construct the development to a standard that would match certification level had the development been submitted for accreditation.

The developer does not appear to be receiving any tax breaks or incentives – at least for now.

It also appears that the cost of the project has ballooned by as much as 20%.

In its Sept. 2007 request for proposal Lake Placid indicated that the projected cost of its development was $125 million.

Included in city council’s agenda is a letter dated December 12, 2007, from Dale Anda of Montrose Mortgage (Calgary) to city manager Phil Richards stating that the estimated cost to complete the project is $150 million.

To date no explanation has been given for the apparent $25 million cost increase.

The sale agreement has also revealed that Saskatoon city administration and Meewasin Valley Authority (MVA) do not appear to be concerned with the fact that the developer’s proposal might not comply with development and zoning requirements.

In River Landing complex step closer to reality (StarPhoenix, Jan. 12, 2007) Chris Dekker, special projects manager for the city, said the proposed plan by Lake Placid has remained constant since the original proposal.

“The preliminary plans that have been submitted to city council haven’t changed,” says Dekker.

Dekker also claims that the developer’s proposed plan meets all of the requirements set out in the original concept for south downtown.

Meewasin Valley Authority CEO Susan Lamb says her organization “has found no issue with the proposal so far.”

Dekker and Lamb’s comments are mind boggling.

The expressions of interest issued by the city in May 2007 required a destination attraction/gathering place. The EOI stated that the destination attraction’s purpose is “to build on the downtown’s role as the cultural heart of the city by the development of cultural facilities which can improve economic prospects and encourage tourism.”

City council discussed the issue of a destination attraction at its April 16, 2007, meeting. The report from the city manager (F2 – River Landing Hotel/Residential Site) states:
“Administration agrees that a spa is just one of many concepts that could serve as a destination attraction and is recommending that the provision of a spa be broadened to include other publicly accessible destination attractions allowed under DCD1 guidelines. A destination attraction’s purpose is more clearly defined under “Permitted Uses” within the DCD1 guidelines: “to build on the Downtown’s role as the cultural heart of the city by the development of cultural facilities which can improve economic prospects and encourage tourism”. Suggested uses include, but are not limited to, interpretive centres, theatres, museums, and art galleries.

Proponents will be instructed that City Council’s preference is for a publicly accessible spa. A destination attraction is suggested as a potential alternative, and will be evaluated accordingly.”
There seems to be little doubt about what city administration meant by a destination attraction.

The public component of Lake Placid’s commonplace hotel-office-residential complex consists of a raised plaza that includes a skating rink in the winter and a reflecting pool in the summer. A waterfall is also proposed. These are not cultural facilities and do not constitute the mandatory destination attraction.

It also appears that the proposed uses are not permitted under the DCD1 zoning guidelines. The DCD1 clearly state that the “only permitted uses” are interpretive centres, theatres, heritage facilities, museums, art galleries, amphitheatres, display space, events programming, tour offices, box offices and public institutional offices.

Page three of the EOI warned respondents “to carefully review the DCD1 Guidelines and the Architectural Control District Guidelines.”

The city has not explained how the Lake Placid proposal was able to proceed beyond the EOI stage when it perhaps should have been disqualified.

The only information that the city has provided on the EOI evaluation process – which was conducted behind closed-doors – is contained in the agenda for city council’s June 25, 2007, meeting and offers no specific details about the proposals.

The report from the city manager (F1 – EOI Selection and RFP for River Landing Parcel “Y”) states:
“The Request for Expressions of Interest (Attachment 1) was issued May 1, 2007 with a deadline of June 15, 2007. During this period, the City engaged a local marketing firm to develop the theme, layout, and placement of print advertisements in daily newspapers including:

Saskatoon StarPhoenix (2 insertions)
Regina Leader Post (2 insertions)
Vancouver Sun
Calgary Herald
Edmonton Journal
Winnipeg Free Press
National Post
Toronto Globe and Mail (2 insertions)

The City also produced and posted a special section on the River Landing website, produced and distributed a sales brochure, and distributed mailouts and emails to prospective developers.

Two submissions were received before the EOI deadline:

1) Lake Placid Investments Inc., and;
2) WAM Group GP Inc./Concorde Group Corporation

The administrative committee conducted an evaluation based on the evaluation criteria and the information requirements of the EOI. The evaluation has found that both scored sufficiently to proceed to the RFP stage. The review indicated that Lake Placid and WAM/Concorde Group have captured the vision, land-use mix, and scale outlined in the EOI and have demonstrated the appropriate financial capacity.

The administrative committee consisted of City Manager Phil Richards, Corporate Services General Manager Marlys Bilanski, Development Services Branch Manager Randy Grauer, Senior Planner Alan Wallace, Planning Branch Manager Lorne Sully, Land Branch Manager Rick Howse, and Special Projects Manager Chris Dekker. The City Solicitor’s Office served as consultants to the review.”
By this point however the process was likely beyond the point of no return since city council was set to make its decision that evening whether to approve the selection of Lake Placid Investments Inc. and WAM Group GP Inc./Concorde Group Corporation to proceed to the Request for Proposal stage for the development of River Landing Parcel “Y” – which it did.

It wasn’t until city council’s September 17, 2007, meeting when Lake Placid’s request for proposal was officially tabled that specific details of the development were revealed. Only then did it become apparent that the proposal appeared not to comply with the city’s development and zoning requirements.

Incredibly the city manager’s report (F1 – River Landing Parcel “Y” – Lake Placid Investments Inc. Proposal Evaluation) for that meeting made the following preposterous claim: “Based on a very preliminary review of the submission against the requirements of DCD1 and Architectural Controls, it would appear that there are no major issues that might prove problematic in this process.”

Perhaps some of the controversy surrounding the Lake Placid proposal could have been avoided had the EOI process been more open and transparent.

Dekker’s assertion that the developer’s proposal “meets all of the requirements set out in the original concept for south downtown” is a different and separate issue from the DCD1 and EOI.

It is interesting to note, however, that the South Downtown Concept Plan (June 2004) states that the DCD1 are one of “four main mechanisms for the control of development in the South Downtown” and recommends that “all four be utilized.”

“The guidelines contain objectives, acceptable land uses, and requirements for building form and massing,” the plan notes.

The integrity of the city’s EOI/RFP process has been compromised. The message Dekker and Lamb are sending is that the process is unfair and that it’s OK for developers to sidestep zoning and development requirements. It seems that the city and MVA are turning a blind eye or bending the rules just to get something built.

Comments made by Mayor Don Atchison last summer regarding criticisms of the Lake Placid proposal seem to illustrate where the city’s priority lies.

In Council bypasses riverfront roadblock (StarPhoenix, Sept. 18, 2007) Atchison said any company willing to spend $125 million -- the estimated cost of Lake Placid’s proposed development -- in Saskatoon deserves congratulations instead of criticism.

“I think it’s about time that we started moving forward . . . I think people are anxious to see something occur sooner rather than later,” Atchison said.

As usual it comes down to money. Throw enough of it around and problems seem to go away.

Since Atchison became mayor in Oct. 2003 the city has changed or bent the rules on a number of occasions to keep developers and the business community happy. These include the construction of the horrendous Galaxy Cinemas on Block 146, big box Wal-Mart’s at the Stonegate shopping centre and soon to be built outlet in the Blairmore Suburban Development Area, and Persephone Theatre. It appears that Parcel “Y” at River Landing will be joining that list.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vancouver Province backs outrageous CEO salaries; CanWest Global boss makes 53 times the average Canadian wage; CCPA studies show huge rich/poor gap

The Vancouver Province is upset over a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) showing that Canada’s 100 best paid CEOs of public companies made an average salary of $8,528,304 in 2006, an amount more than 218 times as much as a Canadian working full-time for a full year at the average of weekly employment earnings ($38,998).

In the report, The Great CEO Pay Race: Over Before it Begins (Dec. 2007), the CCPA found that by 10:33 a.m. January 2, the CEOs will have already pocketed that average Canadian wage. And they will continue to earn the average Canadian wage every nine hours and 33 minutes for the rest of the year.

“For someone working at the minimum wage, the contrast is beyond extreme. By 1:04 p.m. New Years Day in 2006, the best-paid CEOs pocketed what took a minimum wage worker all of 2006 to earn. Every four hours and four minutes, the best-paid 100 CEOs keep pocketing the annual income of a full-time full-year mini¬mum wage worker,” the report states.

The Province editorial board seems to have taken offence to the CCPA shining a light on the dubious statistic.

In Paying top dollar for a great boss may make a lot of sense (Vancouver Province, Jan. 4, 2008) the board said, “It is tempting to regard the salaries of our premier entrepreneurs with a jaundiced eye.”

“The author of the current report, Hugh Mackenzie, asks: “Are those at the top of the income heap really worth so much?” A more pertinent question might be: “Without these guys, would any of us have a job at all?” Sure, company directors must ensure there is proper restraint, and shareholders should be vigilant. Outrageous financial rewards, paid regardless of achievement, are an affront to decency. But that does not mean we should slap some arbitrary limit on the inducements offered to our captains of industry.”

“We detect the odour of sour grapes in what the Centre for Policy Alternatives has to say,” the board said.

“Rich rewards are available to all Canadians with the vision, the talent and the courage to be great innovators. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Would we?”

So it would seem that according to The Province those struggling at the bottom of the heap should consider themselves lucky to have a job at all. Be thankful and shut-up.

The editorial insults honest, hard working, low income Canadians everywhere when it implies that “rich awards” only come to those “with the vision, the talent and the courage to be great innovators.”

It should be noted that the editorial glossed over Mackenzie’s report and the CCPA news release ignoring a number important questions and facts put forward by the author.

Are those at the bottom really worth so little?

What are the implications of this growing gap on Canadian society? What does it mean for our belief in equality of opportunity when the rich are soaring ever further out of reach? What does it mean for social cohesion when a significant minority of Canadians enjoy benefits from their participation in our economic life that are beyond the imagination of most of the rest of us? What does it mean for the health of our political process when our governments give to those who have and take from those who have not?

“In an important study released in September 2007, Statistics Canada shows that most Canadians’ real incomes did not increase from 1992 to 2004. That story changed in the highest-income 10% of Canadians. The bottom half of the top 10% maintained its share of total income: their income grew at the same pace as the average. But in the top 5%, the share of total income increased from 21% to 25%. More than 90% of that gain actually went to the top 1% — the richest of the rich,” said Mackenzie.

“If we don’t ask the questions, we’ll never get the answers.”

Just don’t ask The Province.

The CCPA report is timely and dovetails nicely with two of its earlier studies: 20 Years Later: Has Free Trade Delivered on its Promise? (Dec. 2007) and The Rich and the Rest of Us: The Changing Face of Canada's Growing Gap (Mar. 2007).

The former was released on Dec. 28, 2007, and found that twenty years after Canada signed the Free Trade Agreement its biggest boosters have grown wealthier but promises of better jobs and rising living standards fell short.

The study takes a sample of 41 Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) member companies – the leading supporter of free trade – and finds they shrank their workforce by 19.6% while their revenues grew by 127%.

According to the study’s author, CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell, “the CCCE promise of better public services and social programs under free trade, governments slashed programs by 26% -- more than six times deeper than the OECD average – largely at the urging of lobby groups like the CCCE.”

Among the study’s key findings, between 1987 and 2006:
– The 41 companies’ combined revenue grew from $142 billion to $310 billion while they shrank their combined workforce by over 118,000.

– The Big Three automakers shrank their Canadian workforce by over 50%--from 87,626 to 43,000. Their revenue grew by 70%, from $38.9 billion to $67.3 billion.

– Despite the massive Alberta oil boom, the three major oil companies in the sample cut their combined workforce by almost one-third, from 22,500 to 15,428. Their revenues soared from $13.7 billion to $53.4 billion--a 290% rise.

– Corporate profits are at a 40-year high, but Canadian workers’ wage share of the economy has fallen steadily.

– Only the richest 5% of income earners saw rapid growth in their inflation-adjusted incomes from 1992-2004.
“There will be those among the business elite who will trumpet the free trade agreement’s success. They will link it to the current buoyant economy, with its strong currency, fiscal and trade surpluses, low unemployment and low inflation. They will gloss over the inconvenient facts presented here, and they will dismiss the cumulative interaction of policies that have produced these outcomes. They will call for still deeper integration with the United States, for NAFTA is a stage in an integration process that creates pressure for further agreements which themselves foster still deeper integration—but without any consideration for what kind of Canada is being left in its wake. The facts, however, cast strong doubt that the promise made 20 years ago—the promise of a better life for all Canadians—has been fulfilled. It was an empty promise made by a business elite that has reaped the benefits of these self-serving agreements, without really considering how the majority of Canadians would be affected,” Campbell concluded.

The latter study was released on Mar. 1, 2007, and found that Canada’s income gap between the rich and poor is growing, largely because the lion’s share of Canada’s economic growth is going to the richest 10% of families. It’s not going to the majority, the 80% of families earning under a $100,000.

The study’s author Armine Yalnizyan, a research fellow with the CCPA, reported that:
– In 2004, the average earnings of the richest 10% of Canada’s families raising children was 82 times that earned by the poorest 10% of Canada’s families. That is approaching triple the ratio of 1976, which was around 31 times. The after-tax income gap has never been this high in at least 30 years, and it has been growing faster than ever since the late 1990s.

– The richest 10% of Canadian families are getting richer. They enjoyed a 30% earnings increase compared to a generation ago, the only group to experience such gains. This is creating a new phenomenon in income distribution in Canada: the rich are breaking away from the rest of society, in a way we have not seen since these data began to be collected, in 1976.

– Only the richest 20% are experiencing gains from Canada’s economic growth, and most of those gains are concentrated in the top 10%. The share of income going to the bottom 80% of Canadian families is smaller today than it was a generation ago, in both earnings and after-tax terms.
Unfortunately, there are people like federal Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty who run around the country shamelessly trying to hoodwink people into believing that Canadians everywhere are prospering when the facts clearly suggest otherwise.

On August 30, 2007, conservative think tank Canada West Foundation hosted an invitation only luncheon with Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty at the Hyatt Regency Calgary.

In Alberta, B.C. pact ‘sets new standards’ (Calgary Herald, Aug. 31, 2007), Flaherty said, “The provincial economy continues to fire on all cylinders…That’s good news for Albertans and good news for all Canadians. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say.”

If anything Flaherty’s “rising tide” has lifted the CCCE member companies boats faster and significantly higher than those of the vast majority of Canadians.

It is interesting to note that CanWest Global Communications Corp. is a member of the aforementioned business lobby group. President and Chief Executive Officer, Leonard J. Asper, is a director.

Like the CCCE, the CanWest family of conservative newspapers staunchly supports NAFTA and the dangerous BC-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) with its regime of harmonization and deregulation. It also backs the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), which the Council of Canadians describes as “an executive-level pact between the governments and corporate sectors of Canada, the United States and Mexico, which has never been debated publicly or voted on in any of the three countries. There are over 300 initiatives in the SPP aimed at harmonizing North American policies on food, drugs, security, immigration, refugees, manufacturing, the environment and public health.”

All 10 of the Canadian representatives on the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), an official tri-national working group of the SPP which meets behind closed doors, are members of the high-powered and influential CCCE. They were appointed by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper on June 13, 2006. To date the Harper government has not provided information as to the membership requirements, the selection process, or the terms of the members he appointed to the NACC. Nor is it clear who will be paying the group’s expenses.

CanWest is no stranger to the conservative cause.

The flagship National Post has twice endorsed Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper for Prime Minister. It endorsed Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory for premier in that province’s Oct. 10 election and were elated when the Brad Wall-led right-wing Saskatchewan Party was elected on November 7.

Leonard Asper was a director of the Calgary-based conservative think-tank Canada West Foundation (CWF) until 2001. His brother David was a director from 2002-04. This might help explain the ubiquitous presence of CWF op-eds in the StarPhoenix and Calgary Herald.

In fact, in December 2007, alone the StarPhoenix published four op-eds by the organization including two from president Roger Gibbins. The newspaper’s policy is to discourage writers from submitting more than one letter a month but the CWF appears to be exempt.

Asper is also a director of the University of Winnipeg Foundation and Business Council of Manitoba – two organizations that just so happen to be represented on the CWF board.

Additionally, CanWest chairman Derek H. Burney served as Chief of Staff to Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney between March 1987 and January 1989. It was under Mulroney that the destructive Free Trade Agreement was signed.

CanWest, according to its 2006 Annual Information Form (AIF), is “the largest newspaper publisher in Canada, with 28% of paid circulation in 2006 (35% of English language paid circulation), ahead of Torstar Corporation (14%), Quebecor (21%), Power Corp. (10%), The Globe and Mail (7%), Osprey Media Income Fund (6%) and others (14%).”

“Most of our newspapers have the highest circulation among publications in their markets. The high cost associated with starting a major daily newspaper operation constitutes a barrier to entry to potential new competitors to larger daily newspapers,” the report states.

This is great for CanWest which own Vancouver’s two major daily newspapers, The Province and The Vancouver Sun, giving it a local newspaper market share of 100%.

The media giant also has 100% market share in Saskatoon and Regina where both the StarPhoenix and Leader-Post picked up The Province’s pro-CEO salary editorial.

Interestingly, the AIF goes on to note that CanWest has “a substantial amount of debt.”

As of August 31, 2006, CanWest had $2,771million in consolidated long-term debt (including the current portion) and consolidated shareholder’s equity of $1,371 million, resulting in a total debt to capitalization ratio of 67%.

“Our ability to make payments on and to refinance our debt will depend on our ability to generate cash in the future. This, to an extent, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that are beyond our control,” the report notes.

David A. Asper, Gail S. Asper and Leonard J. Asper (collectively, the “Family Members”), each of whom is an officer of the Company, each beneficially own 25,595,325 multiple voting shares of the Company, representing in aggregate all of the multiple voting shares of the Company.

“Accordingly,” the report says “the Family Members (or their representatives) exercise a controlling influence over the business and affairs of the Company and have the power to determine all matters submitted to a vote of shareholders of the Company where the multiple voting shares and subordinate voting shares vote together as a single class, including the election of directors and the approval of significant corporate transactions such as certain amendments to the articles of incorporation of the Company, the sale of all or substantially all of the Company’s assets and certain business combinations involving the Company. The interests of the Family Members may differ from the interests of the holders of subordinate voting shares. Furthermore, the controlling influence of the Family Members could have the effect of deterring or preventing a change in control of the Company that might otherwise be beneficial to the Company’s other shareholders.”

CanWest also cites world events as a cause for some of its woes: “Our revenues were negatively affected by the impact of the September 11th tragedy on advertising expenditures in 2001 and, more recently, were modestly affected by war in Iraq in early 2003. If there are further acts of terrorism or other hostilities, or if other future financial, political, economic and other uncertainties arise, this could lead to a reduction in advertising expenditures, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.”

With that in mind it’s difficult to understand why the National Post would support someone like Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper who on March 20, 2003, stood in the House of Commons and vociferously backed the illegal U.S.-led invasion, overthrow and occupation of Iraq. Harper also supports Canada’s continued presence in Afghanistan, in a war that began in October 2001 when the U.S. illegally bombed the country into submission in a hollow attempt to capture Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Never mind that neither country had anything to do with 9/11.

CanWest then goes on to complain about its labour force, more specifically those belonging unions:
“Approximately 42% of our employees are represented by unions and covered by collective bargaining agreements. Any strikes, lock-outs and other form of labor protests could disrupt operations and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions or results of operations.”

“Approximately 49% of our Canadian publications employees are employed under a total of 41 collective bargaining agreements. Fifteen of these collective agreements expire in our fiscal 2007. In general, our collective agreements cover operations at individual publications or business locations, rather than multiple locations. We may not be able to renew these collective agreements on satisfactory terms or at all, and we may experience strikes, lockouts and other forms of labor protests in the future.”

“Any strike, lock-out, or other form of labor protest could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results from operations.”

“Newsprint expense represents one of our largest raw material expenses and, after wages and employee benefits expenses and programming acquisition costs, is our most significant operating cost.”
It’s little wonder that the StarPhoenix and Leader-Post are so supportive of the Saskatchewan Party government and its recent introduction of labour legislation that is hostile toward unions.

Through it all Leonard Asper appears to have done OK for himself. According to the company’s most recent management information circular Asper’s total annual compensation for 2007 was $2,063,745.

Although well below the average salary of Canada’s 100 best paid CEOs of public companies in 2006, Asper’s remuneration is still 53 times as much as a Canadian working full-time for a full year at the average of weekly employment earnings ($38,998).

The tide has certainly been good to Asper’s boat as well.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Enterprise Saskatchewan: Ministry sends over 55 organizations more than one invitation; SUN, SUMA, SARM, NSBA, STEP omitted

A January 4, 2008, Saskatchewan Party government news release stated that ministry officials with Saskatchewan Enterprise and Innovation sent out over 300 invitations to Saskatchewan organizations inviting them to put forward nominees to the Board of Enterprise Saskatchewan.

Invitations were reportedly sent to business, labour, aboriginal, agricultural, municipal government, post-secondary institutions and economic stakeholders.

The news release said further that: “The Board will be driven by the main sectors of our economy and tasked with identifying barriers to growth, and developing economic goals and targets for the province.”

“We also want to ensure stakeholders have an opportunity to nominate an individual to the Board, as well as ensure we have a transparent, open and accountable process in place,” [Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle] Stewart said.

The closing date for nominations is January 31, 2008. Organizations must receive an invitation in order to submit a nomination.

What Stewart didn’t explain is why more than 50 organizations received two invitations and whether that means they will be allowed to submit more than one nomination.

At present the Saskatchewan Party government’s nomination process does not seem fair. Many organizations received just one invitation while many have been excluded outright with no apparent opportunity to appeal.

Of the 303 invitations sent out by the ministry 56 went to 28 Regional Economic Development Authorities (REDA) and two went to both the Saskatchewan Economic Development Association and Western Economic Diversification. Why the federal government is involved is a bit of a mystery and a reasonable question to ask.

The ministry news release said that municipal governments were sent invitations but none seem to be named on the list. Also absent are the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM).

It appears at least 95 invitations, nearly one third of all those sent, went to aboriginal organizations.

Various Chambers of Commerce were sent 14 invitations with two of those going to the provincial office. While the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) received one the North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) and Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) did not.

Outdistanced by business, industry and economic development authorities was organized labour who received approximately 29 invitations. It appears that the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) was omitted.

Post secondary institutions received about 11 invitations while agricultural groups got 23. Co-operatives were sent 4, Forestry 3, Arts & Culture 7 and Tourism 1.

Financial institutions such as the Canadian Bankers Association and SaskCentral each received two invitations.

Numerous professional associations, industry groups and other economic stakeholders appear to make up the balance of those sent invitations.

According to the list supplied by the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation those organizations sent more than one invitation include: Ag-West Bio, AMC – Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canadian Bankers Association, Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Light Source, Communications, Energy & Paper Workers’ Union, Consulting Engineers of Saskatchewan, Dumont Technical Institute (DTI), Entrepreneurial Foundation of Saskatchewan, Farm Credit Canada, Federated Co-operatives Ltd., Grain Services Union, Saskatchewan Association of Architects, Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Saskatchewan Co-operative Association, Saskatchewan Economic Development Association, Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission, Saskatchewan Forest Centre, Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists, Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science And Technology (SIAST), Saskatchewan Mining Association, Saskatchewan Recording Industry Association, Sheet Metal Workers, Western Diversification Canada, Western Farm Leadership Council, and Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan.

Premier Brad Wall’s hometown of Swift Current certainly wasn’t forgotten. Action Swift Current and the Swift Current Chamber of Commerce along with the Southwest Centre for Entrepreneurial Development received invitations while the Southwest REDA where Wall once worked got two.

In Gov’t opens nominations for Enterprise Saskatchewan (StarPhoenix, Jan. 5, 2008) Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart said a government committee will whittle down the names put forward by various organizations after nominations close.

“We have a huge job ahead of us to get down from over 300 to 12,” said the Thunder Creek MLA.

However, two people on the 12-member board will come from the Sask. Party government, including Stewart and another cabinet minister.

Stewart said he and another minister, along with some deputy ministers, will be part of the committee that selects the final board members, but those details are still being finalized.

At this point the best guess is that the organizations not selected to be part of the Enterprise Saskatchewan board could form a pool from which participants in the “sector teams” would be selected.

Below are the organizations receiving an invitation that appear on the list supplied by Stewart’s ministry:

1. Action Swift Current, Chairperson

2. Action Committee on the Rural Economy, Chair

3. Agency Chiefs Tribal Council, A/Tribal Rep

4. Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, President

5. Agrivision Corporation, President

6. Ag-West Bio, President

7. Ag-West Bio, Vice President

8. Ahtahkakoop First Nation,

9. AMC – Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada, President

10. AMC – Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada, Manager of Member Services

11. Apprenticeship And Trade Certification Commission (ATCC), Chair

12. Assemblee Communautaire Fransaskoise, President

13. Association of Professional Community Planners of Saskatchewan (APCPS), Executive Director

14. Association of Professional Engineers And Geoscientists of Saskatchewan, President

15. Association of Saskatchewan Realtors, Executive Vice-President

16. Association of Saskatchewan Regional Colleges (ASRC), President

17. Bakery, Confectionary & Tobacco Workers' Int'l. Union,

18. Battleford’s Tribal Council, A/Tribal Rep

19. Battlefords Chamber of Commerce, President

20. Battlefords REDA, Chairperson

21. Battlefords REDA, General Manager

22. Beardy’s And Okemasis First Nation,

23. Big Bear Band,

24. Big Gully REDA, Chairperson

25. Big Gully REDA, Economic Development Officer

26. Big River First Nation,

27. Birch Narrows First Nation,

28. Black Lake First Nation,

29. Border REDA, Chairperson

30. Border REDA, Economic Development Officer

31. Buffalo River Dene First Nation,

32. Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC), President

33. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, President

34. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), President

35. Canadian Bankers Association, Chair

36. Canadian Bankers Association, President & Chief Executive Officer

37. Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Vice-President

38. Canadian Labour Congress, Prairie Regional Director

39. Canadian Labour Congress Prairie Region, Director

40. Canadian Light Source, Chair

41. Canadian Light Source, Executive Director

42. Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Vice President

43. Canadian Office & Professional Employees' Union, President

44. Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association,

45. Canoe Lake Cree First Nation,

46. Carlton Trail REDA, Chairperson

47. Carlton Trail REDA, Economic Development Officer

48. Carry The Kettle First Nation,

49. Certified General Accountants, Executive Director

50. Certified Management Accountants of Saskatchewan, Chief Executive Officer

51. Chacachas First Nation, (Delegated Spokesperson)

52. Chakastapaysin Band of The Cree Nation,

53. Clearwater River Dene First Nation,

54. Communications, Energy & Paper Workers' Union(CEP), Administrative Vice President

55. Communications, Energy & Paper Workers’ (CEP), Admin. Vice President

56. Communities of Tomorrow, President

57. Community Futures Partners of Saskatchewan, Executive Director

58. Conseil De La Cooperation De La Saskatchewan, President

59. Consulting Engineers of Saskatchewan, Chair

60. Consulting Engineers of Saskatchewan, Executive Director

61. Cornerstone REDA, Chairperson

62. Cornerstone REDA, Executive Director

63. Cote First Nation,

64. Council of Saskatchewan Forest Industries, President

65. Cowessess First Nation,

66. Cumberland House Cree Nation,

67. CUPE Sask. Division, President

68. Cypress Hills REDA, Vice-Chairperson

69. Cypress Hills REDA, General Manager

70. Dairy Farmers of Saskatchewan Inc., President

71. Day Star First Nation,

72. Dumont Technical Institute (DTI), Principal

73. Dumont Technical Institute (DTI), Executive Director

74. Eastern Region I,

75. Eastern Region II, Director

76. Eastern Region IIa, Director

77. Eastern Region III, Director

78. English River First Nation,

79. Entrepreneurial Foundation of Saskatchewan, Chief Executive Officer

80. Entrepreneurial Foundation of Saskatchewan, Chair

81. Entrepreneurs 2000 REDA, Chairperson

82. Entrepreneurs 2000 REDA, Economic Development Officer

83. Estevan & District Chamber of Commerce, President

84. Etomami Valley REDA, Town Administrator

85. Etomami Valley REDA., Chairperson

86. Farm Credit Canada, President & Chief Executive Officer

87. Farm Credit Canada, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

88. Federated Co-operatives Ltd, President

89. Federated Co-operatives Ltd, Chief Executive Officer

90. Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations,

91. File Hills Qu’appelle Tribal Council/Treaty Four Territory, Tribal Rep

92. First Nations University of Canada, President

93. Fishing Lake First Nation,

94. Flying Dust First Nation,

95. Fond Du Lac First Nation,

96. Gateway REDA, Chairperson

97. Gateway REDA, Economic Development Officer

98. Good Spirit REDA, Chairperson

99. Good Spirit REDA, General Manager

100. Gordon First Nation,

101. Grain Services Union, General Secretary

102. Grain Services Union, President

103. Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, Chairman

104. Hatchet Lake Denesuline Nation,

105. Institute of Chartered Accountants of Saskatchewan, Chief Executive Officer

106. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Business Manager & F.S.

107. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Bus. Mgr. Local 2038

108. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers,

109. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Business Manager

110. International Union of Painters And Allied Trades, Business Manager–Local 739

111. International Union of Painters And Allied Trades, Business Manager–Local 740

112. Ironworkers ,

113. Island Lake First Nation,

114. James Smith Cree Nation,

115. Joseph Bighead First Nation,

116. Kahkewistahaw First Nation,

117. Kawacatoose First Nation,

118. Keeseekoose First Nation,

119. Kinistin Saulteaux Nation,

120. Lac La Ronge Indian Band,

121. Little Black Bear First Nation,

122. Little Pine First Nation,

123. Long Lake REDA, Chairperson

124. Long Lake REDA, Economic Development Officer

125. Lucky Man Cree Nation,

126. Mainline REDA, Chairperson

127. Mainline REDA, General Manager

128. Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation,

129. Meadow Lake Tribal Council,

130. Melfort & District Chamber of Commerce, President

131. Métis Nation – Saskatchewan, President

132. Mid Sask REDA, Chairperson

133. Mid Sask REDA, General Manager

134. Midwest REDA, Chairperson

135. Midwest REDA, Economic Development Officer

136. Millwrights,

137. Mistawasis First Nation,

138. Montreal Lake First Nation,

139. Moose Jaw & District Chamber of Commerce, President

140. Moose Jaw REDA, Chairperson

141. Moose Jaw REDA, Director - Economic Development

142. Moosomin First Nation,

143. Mosquito Grizzly Bear’s Head, Lean Man First Nation,

144. Muscowpetung First Nation,

145. Muskeg Lake Cree Nation,

146. Muskoday First Nation,

147. Muskowekwan First Nation,

148. National Farmers Union, President

149. Neekaneet First Nation,

150. Nipawin And District Chamber of Commerce, President

151. North East REDA, Chairperson

152. North East REDA, Administrative Coordinator

153. Northern Region I, Director

154. Northern Region II, Director

155. Northern Region III, Director

156. Northwest REDA, Vice-Chairperson

157. Northwest REDA, Economic Development Officer

158. Ocean Man Fist Nation,

159. Ochapowace First Nation,

160. Okanese First Nation,

161. One Arrow First Nation,

162. Onion Lake First Nation,

163. Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils, President

164. Pasqua First Nation,

165. Peepeekisis First Nation,

166. Pelican Lake First Nation,

167. Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation,

168. Peter Chapman First Nation,

169. Petroleum Technology Research Centre, Chairman, Board Of Directors

170. Pheasant Rump Nakota First Nation,

171. Piapot First Nation,

172. Poundmaker First Nation,

173. Prairie To Pine REDA, Chairperson

174. Prairie To Pine REDA, Secretary

175. Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce, Chairman

176. Prince Albert Grand Council,

177. Prince Albert REDA, Chairperson

178. Prince Albert REDA, Executive Director

179. Red Coat REDA, Chairperson

180. Red Coat REDA, Chairperson

181. Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, President

182. Regina & Region Home Builders Association, President

183. Regina REDA, Chairperson

184. Regina REDA, President And Chief Executive Officer

185. Retail Wholesale & Department Store Union, Secretary-Treasurer

186. Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association of Saskatchewan, Chairman

187. S/E Treaty #4 Tribal Council,

188. Sakimay First Nations,

189. Sask Pork, Chair

190. Sask Works Venture Fund Inc., Chief Operating Officer

191. Sask/Provincial Building Trades, Business Manager

192. Saskatchewan Aerospace And Defence Industry, President

193. Saskatchewan Arts Alliance,

194. Saskatchewan Association of Architects, President

195. Saskatchewan Association of Architects, Executive Director

196. Saskatchewan Association of Career Colleges,

197. Saskatchewan Canola Growers Association, President

198. Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association, President

199. Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association, General Manager

200. Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, President

201. Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, President

202. Saskatchewan Co-operative Association, President

203. Saskatchewan Co-operative Association, Executive Director

204. Saskatchewan Craft Council, Chair

205. Saskatchewan Cultural Industries Development Council,

206. Saskatchewan Economic Development Association, President

207. Saskatchewan Economic Development Association, Executive Director

208. Saskatchewan Environmental Industry And Managers Association

209. Saskatchewan Environmental Society, President

210. Saskatchewan Federation of Labour , President

211. Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission, Chairman

212. Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission, Executive Director

213. Saskatchewan Food Processors Association, Coo

214. Saskatchewan Forest Centre, Chair

215. Saskatchewan Forest Centre, Chief Executive Officer

216. Saskatchewan Government Employees’ Union, President

217. Saskatchewan Home Builders Association, Inc., President

218. Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), President

219. Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), Chair

220. Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists, President

221. Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists, Executive Director

222. Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science And Technology (SIAST), President & Chief Executive Officer

223. Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science And Technology (SIAST), Chair

224. Saskatchewan Livestock Association, President

225. Saskatchewan Mining Association, President

226. Saskatchewan Mining Association Inc., Executive Director

227. Saskatchewan Potash Producers Association (SPPA), Executive Director

228. Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, Chair

229. Saskatchewan Recording Industry Association, President

230. Saskatchewan Recording Industry Association, Executive Director

231. Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association, President

232. Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, President

233. Saskatchewan Trucking Association, President

234. Saskatoon & Region Home Builders Association, President

235. Saskatoon REDA, Chairperson

236. Saskatoon REDA, Chief Executive Officer

237. Saskatoon Tribal Council,

238. Saskcentral, Chief Executive Officer

239. Saskcentral, President

240. SaskCulture Inc., President

241. Saulteaux First Nation,

242. Service Employees International Union (SEIU), President

243. Sheet Metal Workers,

244. Sheet Metal Workers,

245. Sheet Metal Workers,

246. Shoal Lake Cree Nation,

247. Small Explorers And Producers Association of Canada (SEPAC), Executive Director

248. South East REDA, Chairperson

249. South East REDA, Manager

250. South Parkland REDA, Chairperson

251. South Parkland REDA, Economic Development Officer

252. Southwest Centre For Entrepreneurial Development, Manager

253. Southwest REDA, Chairperson

254. Southwest REDA, General Manager

255. Standing Buffalo First Nation,

256. Star Blanket Cree Nation,

257. Sturgeon Lake First Nation,

258. Sweetgrass First Nation,

259. Swift Current Chamber of Commerce, President

260. Teamsters Canada Rail Conference,

261. The Key First Nation,

262. Thunderchild First Nation,

263. Tisdale & District Chamber of Commerce, President

264. Touchwood Agency Tribal Council, Director of Operations

265. Touchwood Hills REDA, Chairperson

266. Touchwood Hills REDA, Chairperson

267. Tourism Saskatchewan, Chief Executive Officer And President

268. TRLabs, Chair

269. TRLabs, President And Chief Executive Officer

270. United Ass’t of Plumbers & Pipefitters, Bus. Mgr Local 179

271. United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), President

272. United Steelworkers (USW), Area Co-Ordinator

273. University of Regina, President And Vice-Chancellor

274. University of Saskatchewan, President

275. Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), Chief Executive Officer

276. Wahpeton Dakota Nation,

277. Waterhen Lake First Nation,

278. West Central REDA, Chairperson

279. West Central REDA, Economic Development Officer

280. Western Barley Growers Association, President

281. Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, President

282. Western Economic Diversification, A/Assistant Deputy Minister

283. Western Economic Diversification, A/Director General

284. Western Farm Leadership Council, Executive Director

285. Western Farm Leadership Council, Chair

286. Western Region I, Director

287. Western Region II, Director

288. Western Region IIa, Director

289. Western Region III, Director

290. Western Region III, Director

291. Weyburn Chamber of Commerce, President

292. White Bear First Nation,

293. Whitecap Dakota First Nation,

294. Witchekan Lake First Nation,

295. Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan, Chair

296. Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan, Executive Director

297. Wood Mountain First Nation,

298. Yellow Quill First Nation,

299. Yellowhead REDA, Chairperson

300. Yellowhead REDA, A/General Manager

301. Yorkton Chamber of Commerce, President

302. Yorkton Tribal Council,

303. Young Chippewayan First Nation,