Saskatchewan

'It's not surprising': Former Sask. premier Brad Wall lands 3 board appointments in energy sector

Former premier Brad Wall has picked up three board appointments this year, including joining an oil and gas company he tried to lure to Saskatchewan.

Wall joins board of company he tried to lure to Sask.

Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall is a board member of three Canadian energy companies. (Colin Hall/CBC)

Former premier Brad Wall has picked up three board appointments this year, including joining an oil and gas company he tried to lure to Saskatchewan.

In March, he was named to the board of uranium exploration company NexGen Energy. 

In May, he was named to the board of Calgary-based Maxim Power Corp. 

Last month, Wall was named to the board of Calgary-based oil and gas company Whitecap Resources Inc. In 2017, Wall sent a letter to Whitecap's CEO asking the company to relocate its head offices from Calgary to Saskatchewan.

Both NexGen and Whitecap have operations in Saskatchewan.

A few days after his appointment to Whitecap's board, Wall tweeted, "Honoured to join Whitecap Resource's board. A great Canadian oil & gas company with the majority of its assets in Sask. Companies like this & the jobs they provide deserve the policy support & encouragement of our federal government."

In accepting these board positions when he did, Wall cleared the 12-month cooling-off period for taking a position as a director with a company that may be doing business with the province. Wall left office in February 2018.

Wall accepted a job as a special adviser for law firm Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP in May 2018. The firm was not on Saskatchewan's lobbyist registry at the time and Justice Minister Don Morgan said the organization had no business relationship with the province.

Saskatchewan's conflict of interest commissioner Ron Barclay said Wall has followed the province's legislation.

"The ex-premier has been very very conscientious and he will approach me for advice, but he's very careful to ensure that he is complying with the legislation," Barclay said.

"I think he is a role model for MLAs on both sides of the house because he's so conscientious."

The cooling off period for members of cabinet is also 12 months, while the period for other MLAs is six months.

Wall's attempt to get Whitecap to relocate

In 2017, Wall faced criticism from the Alberta NDP after a letter he sent to Whitecap Resources was made public.

Wall offered to subsidize relocation costs, trim taxes and royalties and help find space in unused government buildings if the oil and gas firm relocated to Saskatchewan.

"This is my job, to try to attract permanent new jobs to the province and to try and improve the corporate presence," Wall said at the time.

Conflict of Interest Commissioner Ron Barclay says Wall is a 'role model' to other MLAs. (CBC)

Whitecap Resources CEO Grant Fagerheim said he was taking the letter seriously but would only move if it would benefit his company's shareholders. Fagerheim remains the CEO of the company.

Conflict of interest statements submitted by Wall in 2016 showed he and his wife had investments in Whitecap.

At the request of Wall's office, Barclay looked into Wall investments in three companies he pitched to bring Saskatchewan.

"There does not appear to be any evidence that such a relocation, if it even occurred, could plausibly increase the share price of the three companies," Barclay said in a written decision.

Wall's appointments not surprising, says ethics expert

Ian Stedman said Wall's post-premier board appointments make sense when compared to others who leave public service.

"[Ex-politicians] generally go to places they know or industries they know well," said Stedman, who specializes in political ethics at Osgoode Hall Law School.

"It's not surprising that, if he's going to go somewhere, he's going to go to three companies that are similar in nature."

NexGen CEO Leigh Curyer said in a news release that Wall brought, "extensive national energy policy, political and economic experience."

Stedman said 12-to-24 month cooling-off periods are sufficient in Canada. He said if the public office holder wants to work for a company that has a relationship with the province, a mandatory consultation with the ethics commissioner should be required.

"If you tell the premier that they can't go work somewhere else because everyone's a government stakeholder then you really limit their ability to make a living after leaving public service."

Stedman said politicians make the ethics rules and therefore are reluctant to limit their employment opportunities post elected life.

Board appointments common

Wall is following in the footsteps of former NDP premiers who took positions on boards of oil companies following their time in power.

Tommy Douglas was on the board of Husky Oil. After the Romanow government sold the remaining shares of what had been SaskOil to Occidental Petroleum, Allan Blakeney was named to Occidental's board.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for more than 14 years. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

With files from The Canadian Press

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now