The minister responsible for SaskTel said he made a mistake when he told the Opposition earlier this week that no work had been done to study the potential effects of selling up to half of the Crown corporation.

On Wednesday in the Legislature, the Opposition critic for SaskTel, Warren McCall, asked the minister responsible if any work had been done to study the potential tax implications of selling up to 49 per cent of the Crown corporation.

Minister Dustin Duncan said "No." 

Dustin Duncan

Minister responsible for SaskTel, Dustin Duncan, said he made a mistake when he told the Opposition no work had been done to study the potential implications of a sale of part of the company. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

The next day, he sent a letter to McCall saying he had made a mistake.

"That answer was not correct," Duncan writes. "There has been some preliminary work done by SaskTel on this front. I apologize for the confusion."

The Saskatchewan government passed legislation Wednesday that would allow it to sell up to 49 per cent of the province's Crown corporations. Bill 40 creates a legal definition of privatization that allows the partial sale of a Crown without requiring a vote of support from the people of the province.

McCall said under the current rules, if more than 10 per cent of the company is sold, SaskTel would lose its status as a government-owned entity and could be on the hook for a 15 per cent federal corporate tax rate.

Duncan would not say what the potential tax implications of selling up to half of SaskTel would be, calling that hypothetical.

Warren McCall

Opposition critic for SaskTel, Warren McCall, said the government needs to get its story straight on the possibility of selling up to half of the company. (Mike Zartler/CBC)


McCall noted that the Saskatchewan Party campaigned in 2007 on a promise to be the most open and accountable government in the province's history.

He said the government's recent behaviour makes a mockery of that pledge, as well as its slogan of the time, that "hope beats fear."

"I guess my hope for them is that they figure out a way to tell the truth, to get their story straight and to quit playing games like this with people's lives," McCall said. 

Duncan said if the government decides to go ahead with any sale of a minority stake in the company, it will make public the implications at that time.

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