Saskatchewan

Sask. Premier wants review of SaskTel's future competitiveness

The government of Saskatchewan wants a risk analysis done on its telephone company, in the wake of news earlier this month that Bell will buy Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.

Brad Wall says sale of Manitoba Telecom requires 'risk analysis' in Saskatchewan

Brad Wall says the sale of MTS leaves SaskTel as "the only, sort of quite small, regional player — the only one on this island." (Neil Cochrane/CBC)

The government of Saskatchewan wants a risk analysis done on its telephone company, in the wake of news earlier this month that Bell will buy Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.

Premier Brad Wall says that deal leaves SaskTel as "the only, sort of quite small, regional player — the only one on this island."

Wall says the government-owned company already has to share its telephone infrastructure with its private competitors, which had made the competition increasingly tough.

"Does the takeover mean anything, in terms of SaskTel's ongoing competitiveness?" 

Wall says the answer to that question, in the form of an independent risk analysis, will be made public.

No sale without provincial vote

As for what will happen after that, Wall says he will not break his promise to sell a government-owned utility without campaigning on the idea.

However, he says, permission for a sale could come through a different kind of provincial vote.

"I guess if there was a compelling case, if it was something Saskatchewan people, we thought, really wanted to at least talk about there is the idea of a provincial referendum that might change something," Wall said.

Wall says the government will not sell a major crown without that public permission, but that does not quell the Opposition leader's concerns.

"It's more sneaky moves from the Premier," said Trent Wotherspoon.

He has been critical of the government for not tabling a budget before the election campaign and wonders if this is a way to deal with the financial pressures.

"To start to look at what he can liquidate and sell off? That's totally unacceptable," said Wotherspoon.

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