Accusations about corporate, union donations flying at Sask. legislature

The NDP is clashing with Premier Brad Wall over campaign contributions, with each suggesting the other is engaging in "pay to play".

Premier Brad Wall, NDP's David Forbes trade 'pay-to-play' allegations

Premier Brad Wall and Opposition MLA David Forbes squared off in the legislative assembly on Thursday over union and corporate donations to their respective parties. (Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly)

The NDP is clashing with Premier Brad Wall over campaign contributions, with each suggesting the other is engaging in "pay to play".

Earlier this week, advocacy group Progress Alberta was in the news for its database showing that since 2006, the Saskatchewan Party has accepted more than $3 million in out-of-province corporate donations, with more than $2 million coming from Alberta companies alone.

On Thursday, New Democrat MLA David Forbes (Saskatoon Centre) was in the legislative assembly saying it's time to get "big money" out of Saskatchewan politics, to bring Saskatchewan in line with other provinces.

Forbes said not only should corporate donations be banned, but also union and out-of-province donations in order "to make our democracy more democratic."

He went on to say that some of those corporate donations end up in Wall's pockets.

"The premier relies on some of those corporations to pay into a fund his party collects to give him a nice, big bonus, just for being the leader," Forbes said during question period. "Must be nice. But the premier says these big corporations should have a say in our political system."

Forbes said it sounds less like democracy in action and more like "pay-to-play" — the term commonly used to describe making political donations to receive access or benefits.

In response, Wall tried to turn it back on Forbes, criticizing the NDP for taking union donations. Historically, the NDP has received much of its financial support from unions.

"If what he says he believes, then he would accept the fact that unions were paying to play the NDP," Wall said. "If the rationale is that that's all about paying to play, then he should maybe disclose to the House what unions got paid back for the money they gave to the NDP in terms of influence in their caucus."

Wall said it's true that 10 per cent of Sask. Party donations come from companies headquarters outside the province, but he is not apologizing for that.

"We're actually taking that money from other provinces and repatriating it back to Saskatchewan, putting it to work in Saskatchewan," he said. 

According to Progress Alberta, some of the major contributions to the Sask. Party came from oil and gas, banks and construction companies. Some of the larger donors since 2006 include:

  • Crescent Point: $126,924.
  • PCL: $88,817.
  • Penn West: $83,348.
  • Cenovus: $68,108.
  • Encana: $50,557.