Saskatchewan's former minister of the economy says he doesn't believe his involvement in a company trying to attract Chinese investors is a conflict of interest, but he's still asking the conflict of interest commissioner to look into it.
Bill Boyd resigned in August 2016 from his position as minister of the economy, in which he oversaw the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP).
- Bill Boyd promoting immigration scheme that would benefit company he's involved in
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He's since taken on a role with an irrigation business called the Modern Hi-Efficiency Agriculture Corporation, which is attempting to profit from the program.
In a statement, Boyd said the business is trying to attract investor interest in irrigation developments in Saskatchewan.
The company says its investments will help Chinese entrepreneurs attain permanent residence in Canada through the entrepreneurial category of the immigrant nominee program.
While participating in presentations at a seminar to promote the business in Beijing, Boyd said he made it clear he was there as a farmer and private businessman.
However, he said that due to Chinese customs, his former title of minister remained in place. The company's website also features a government of Saskatchewan logo, and referred to Boyd as the minister of the economy.
Boyd said he's working to make sure there are no possible misunderstandings.
"Efforts are being made to contact everyone that attended the seminar to clarify that point and also that the government of Saskatchewan is not involved with and has not endorsed this investment opportunity," Boyd wrote in a statement.
Boyd said the company didn't secure any investors as a result of the trip to China or since then.
He announced yesterday he's resigning from politics — on the same day CBC gave him as a deadline to respond to questions regarding the business.
'Be more vigilant,' premier warns
In a letter to Boyd dated Aug. 3, Premier Brad Wall addresses the former minister's businesses activities and warns him to "be more vigilant" to ensure he's not misrepresenting the government.
"As an MLA, it is extremely important that you be more vigilant in ensuring that the government of Saskatchewan is never inaccurately represented. Please ensure that any future representations made by you or on your behalf do not inaccurately represent the government of Saskatchewan in any manner," it reads.
Kathy Young, Wall's spokesperson, circulated the letter to reporters in an email on Wednesday. In the message, Young said the premier thought a trip Boyd made to China was on personal business.
She said Boyd told the premier's office about the trip following a reporter's inquiries. Wall then penned a letter to Boyd, asking that any misunderstanding be corrected, according to Young.
'A very serious matter:' Saskatchewan NDP
The Saskatchewan NDP said an investigation is needed from both the conflict of interest commissioner and RCMP.
"There is a very serious matter when you're talking about breach of trust and access to information and conflict of interest and influence, and certainly that's a matter for the RCMP," said NDP member of the legislature Trent Wotherspoon.
Wotherspoon said Boyd has been plagued by scandals and should have been punted from the Saskatchewan Party long ago.
Interim NDP Leader Nicole Sarauer said the matter runs much deeper and called the news horrifying.
"We had the premier just yesterday singing his praises, saying that Boyd is in the DNA of the Sask. Party," Sarauer said.
"Well, know that this scandal, these scandals, are also in the DNA of the Sask. Party," she said, referring to Boyd's involvement in land deals for the Global Transportation Hub west of Regina.