Saskatchewan

'I guess it just slipped my mind': Carrot River liquor store loses permit because MLA owns shares

Just a day after it was awarded, the Carrot River Inn is losing its permit to operate a liquor store. Turns out one of the shareholders in the inn is also the local Saskatchewan Party MLA, Fred Bradshaw.

Fred Bradshaw says he was not a part of the permit application or approval process

The Saskatchewan government announced the location and owners of 50 new private liquor stores on Wednesday. (Neil Cochrane/CBC)

Just a day after it was awarded, the Carrot River Inn is losing its permit to operate a liquor store.

On Wednesday, it was announced the business was selected to operate a private liquor store in the town of Carrot River, Sask., located 290 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.

Turns out one of the shareholders in the inn is also the local Saskatchewan Party MLA.

"I guess it just slipped my mind ... that this had to go through the conflict of interest commissioner," said Fred Bradshaw.

"I should have checked with the conflict of interest commissioner at that time and I should have let the minister know at that time and I did not."

Sask. Party MLA for Carrot River Valley, Fred Bradshaw, says he is sorry that he did not declare a conflict of interest. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

Bradshaw said he owns a 1.4-per-cent stake in the Carrot River Inn, but he's not involved in management and operations, nor was he involved in preparing the proposal for the liquor store permit or awarding the permit to the group.

He said he didn't make Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority Minister Jeremy Harrison aware of his stake in the inn during the proposal process and that he shouldn't own part of a business competing for a government contract.

Harrison said he learned the news from his officials Wednesday evening.

He said after a blunt conversation with Bradshaw, he alerted both the conflict of interest commissioner and the premier. He then proposed the liquor permit be pulled and the bidding process begin again for Carrot River.

SLGA Minister Jeremy Harrison says the bidding process will begin again for the new liquor store in Carrot River. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

"This is something, quite frankly, that Mr. Bradshaw should have been aware of and it's something that causes me a great deal of concern on a number of levels," Harrision said.

"You know, we've worked very hard to make sure this process has been very much arms-length and it very much has been," he said, noting that politicians had no role in choosing the successful applicants. 

Bradshaw said the conversation he had with Harrison was direct and "very uncomfortable, because we are all supposed to be professionals here and that was an unprofessional mistake."

He said he is sorry and will sell his share in the inn so the business can bid again.

The Opposition NDP said this incident calls into question the integrity of the whole process of privatizing these liquor stores.