Saskatchewan

Wall confident auditor review into $21M GTH land deal will show appropriate processes were followed

Premier Brad Wall has asked the provincial auditor to review a $21-million land purchase west of Regina in 2014.

Premier Brad Wall says the government will co-operate fully with review

Premier Brad Wall has asked the provincial auditor to review a $21-million land purchase west of Regina in 2014. (Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan's premier has asked the provincial auditor to review a $21-million land purchase west of Regina in 2014.

On Monday afternoon, Premier Brad Wall put the request in to the Lieutenant Governor, to have a review of the Global Transportation Hub's 2014 purchase of 204 acres of land for a highway bypass just west of Regina. 

"I am confident that all the appropriate processes were followed. However, in order to ensure public confidence that everything was done correctly, I am asking the provincial auditor to review this transaction," Wall said in a statement.

The move comes hours after the NDP requested the provincial auditor to conduct a special investigation into the land purchase.

The GTH, which is a provincial Crown corporation, paid about $103,000 an acre for the land, even though internal government appraisals showed it was valued at a fraction of that, as was revealed in a series of stories from CBC Saskatchewan's iTeam last week.

"Our government will co-operate fully with this review and I look forward to the provincial auditor's findings," Wall said in the statement.

The request asks the auditor to examine whether the provincial government followed appropriate procedures and received the appropriate value for the land, including looking at any transaction leading up to and following the acquisition. 

"We're looking at and considering the request," said Judy Ferguson, Saskatchewan's Provincial Auditor. "We have not made a decision on whether or not we'll be doing an audit."

Ferguson said her office is currently seeking legal advice about their ability to make the report public. She said she would not do the review if it can't be made public. 

The NDP suggested the report would not be available until after the April 4 election, but Ferguson said there would not be a specific time frame if they go ahead with the review.

"Audits by their nature encompass certain processes and procedures. They're not designed to be a really fast, fast turnaround," she said.

NDP leader Cam Broten has asked the chair of the legislature's public accounts committee to recall the committee so an investigation can be launched into a $21-million land purchase west of Regina. (Alberta Couillard/Radio-Canada)

NDP wants committee recalled so $21M GTH land deal can be investigated

The Saskatchewan New Democrats have requested the provincial auditor to conduct a special investigation into the land purchase.

Earlier on Monday, NDP Leader Cam Broten said he called on the chair of the legislature's public accounts committee to recall it so a probe can be launched into the acquisition.

The chair of the public accounts committee is New Democrat MLA Danielle Chartier. The majority of members of the committee are with the governing Saskatchewan Party, which means they could have blocked any proposal to call for a special investigation.

The Saskatchewan government's Global Transportation Hub spent $21 million to buy land for a bypass west of Regina. (Global Transportation Hub website)

"So the Sask Party and Mr. Wall can obstruct on this if they want to," Broten said. "But I don't know why they would want to. Because if there's nothing that's a problem, what's the problem with shining a light on it?"

Before his request for review, Wall said that his party's members wouldn't stand in the way of an NDP move to investigate the land deal further. He also said it's not necessary to reconvene the committee in order for the auditor to study the transaction.

Wall has said he stands by the deal and that there was nothing improper about it.

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