No more special luncheons for $1K donors: Sask. Party

The Saskatchewan Party has changed its rules so that donors who spend $1,000 to join an elite club won't get special luncheons with the premier or cabinet ministers.

The Saskatchewan Party has changed its rules so that donors who spend $1,000 to join an elite club won't get special luncheons with the premier or cabinet ministers.

Luncheons with the premier, ministers and "decision-makers" in government used to be one of the perks of membership in the party's "Enterprise Club."  A normal party membership costs $10.

The club was in the news recently when it was learned that Glen Kobussen, a former CEO of St. Peter's College, spent $1,000 to join and was reimbursed by St. Peter's.

A spokesperson for the St. Peter's board said the expense was approved to give Kobussen access to the political process.

Kobussen was also the CEO of Carlton Trail Regional College. He was fired last week after a consultant's report revealed governance and financial problems at the two colleges which, until the report came out, had been seeking a merger.

Asked about the situation on Monday, Premier Brad Wall insisted that there was no lobbying allowed in the Enterprise Club. He said the $1,000 donation had been returned and Kobussen was out of the club.

The Enterprise Club is for "political junkies" who want to help the party and like to talk politics, Wall said.

But if even one person thinks the special memberships buy access to power, changes need to be made, Wall said Monday.

That change came quickly, with Saskatchewan Party president Gary Meschishnick saying Tuesday there would be a review of the Enterprise Club membership provisions "with a view to removing any provisions that could appear to provide preferential access to government decision-makers."

The luncheon meetings will be discontinued, Meschishnick said.

There are 146 members of the Enterprise Club, he said.

The Enterprise Club was a topic of extensive debate in the legislature on Tuesday, with Opposition NDP MLA Frank Quennell quizzing cabinet minister Jeremy Harrison about it.

Quennell noted that a Saskatchewan Party letter sent to prospective Enterprise Club members describes it as "an excellent venue to present your views and comments" to government MLAs and the premier.

"Mr. Wall along with other Cabinet Ministers and MLAs, meet with Enterprise Club members several times throughout the year," the letter says. "Joining the Enterprise Club ensures that your comments and ideas will be heard."