NDP vows not to sell off Crown corporations

NDP leader Cam Broten says if his party is elected, it will not sell off any of the province's Crown corporations.

Broten presses Sask. Party, Brad Wall to disclose potential Crown sales

Cam Broten is vowing not to sell off Crown corporations. (Samanda Brace/CBC)

NDP leader Cam Broten says if his party is elected, it will not sell off any of the province's Crown corporations.

Broten made the pledge at a campaign stop in Regina on Tuesday.

Saskatchewan's Crown corporations include SaskPower, SaskEnergy, SaskTel and Saskatchewan Government Insurance.

Broten said Crowns are an important part of affordability for everyday families. Earlier in the campaign, the NDP repeated a traditional pledge to give the public the lowest-cost bundle of utilities in Canada.

On Tuesday, Broten also called on Brad Wall to disclose any plans he has to sell off Crown corporations in the future.

"In the last election, Mr. Wall kept all those plans secret — he didn't tell Saskatchewan people he was going to sell off profitable Crowns and protected land," Broten said in a news release. 

"But that's exactly what he did, even in good economic times. Now that he's looking for money to plug his deficit, what sell-off plan is Mr. Wall hiding?"

The release cited the government's sale of Information Services Corporation and its plans to sell 40 SLGA liquor stores as examples of warnings for future Crown sales.

Background information provided with the release also used an example out of Manitoba to cast selling Crowns in a negative light.

"After promising not to privatize Manitoba Telecom Services, the Conservative government sold it off in 1997. Manitoba families pay 22 per cent more on their telephone bills compared to Saskatchewan families, and 38 per cent more for basic home phone service," the NDP said.

The NDP says Manitoba Telecom Services has 114,000 fewer customer connections than SaskTel, but its net income is 72 per cent higher because of higher rates and "inferior services."

"We, the people of Saskatchewan, own these Crowns and we should benefit from that ownership," Broten said. "Selling off Crowns is reckless and will hurt affordability for families."

Wall says 'major Crowns' off the table

When asked to respond to the NDP's charges, Sask. Party leader Brad Wall said the province's four big Crowns — SGI, SaskTel, SaskPower and SaskEnergy — will not be sold or privatized. 

"There's something we signed on to called the Crown Corporation Protection Act, or to that effect. Basically, it protects Crowns from being privatized," he said. "If elected, we will make one change to that: that's to the liquor retailing in the province. And we've already announced that."

"Will [the Act] be changed with respect to [SaskTel]? No. SaskPower? No. SaskEnergy? No. SGI? No," he said. "With respect to the major Crowns, we will not be changing it if we're re-elected again."

In an email to CBC, a Sask.Party representative clarified that they would not privatize Crowns mentioned in the The Crown Corporations Act, 1993.


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