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Legislative Report (4 January 2006)

Legislative Report

4 January 2006
NDP Goverment Too Slow Answering Oppostion Questions
Opposition Suggest a New Year's Resolution for the Government

New Years is a time that often finds us making resolutions for the year ahead of things wed like to do better or less of. Be it getting organized or more physically active, quitting smoking or saving more money, most of usually set ourselves at least one goal to achieve in the brand new year. This year, the Saskatchewan Party would like to suggest at least one goal for the Calvert NDP government to seriously consider: start by being open and accountable to the people of Saskatchewan.

During the fall sitting of the legislature, the Saskatchewan Party submitted a number of written questions to the Calvert government about fraud in government departments. Specifically, we wanted to know, for every department and Crown agency, what specific policies the provincial government has in place to both prevent and detect fraud. Written Questions are a legislative tool used by the opposition to get timely answers from the government on behalf of both specific constituents and the Saskatchewan populace at large. Once a question is submitted, the government has five sitting days in which to provide a written answer. This fall, however, the Calvert government converted all of the Saskatchewan Partys written questions to Orders for Return, meaning the government doesnt have to provide answers for 180 days, or until May of this year.

Nearly two months later, the Calvert NDP continues to stonewall the Opposition on its questions relating to fraud in government departments. These should not be difficult questions to answer. You, as a shareholder in the government of Saskatchewan, have a right to know what steps the Calvert government is taking to ensure billions of hard earned tax dollars are accounted for. In just over a year, we have learned of three separate cases where large sums of money have gone missing from the departments of the Environment, Liquor & Gaming, as well as Community Resources and Employment.

If this government were a publicly traded corporation and took this long to divulge to its shareholders what it was doing to detect and prevent fraud, that would be reason enough to fire the board of directors. Apparently the Calvert NDP is not as committed to transparency and accountability as it would like people to believe.

In addition to questions about fraud policies, the Saskatchewan Party asked a number of straightforward questions relating to various government departments. These questions deal with matters of health and local constituency concerns among other issues. Here is a sample of some of the questions the Calvert government has failed to provide answers to:

  • To date, for the fiscal year 2005/06, what First Nations have been under a boil water advisory and how long have they been under that advisory?
  • How many proposals did SPM receive by the May 31, 2005 deadline for the disposal of the Echo Valley Conference Centre; and who were the parties that submitted proposals?
  • To date, for the Raise a Flag for Fairness equalization advertising campaign, how many requests for the Saskatchewan Energy Accord flags has the government received?
There is no reason it should take 180 days to provide answers to simple questions like these, especially in light of a sixty per cent increase in the budget for the Premiers communications staff. When asked about this hefty hike last year, NDP Finance Minister said the reason the increase was to ensure timely answers to the Oppositions written questions. So much for money well spent.

In closing, we hope the Calvert government will heed our advice and start the new year on a good foot: be open and accountable to the people of Saskatchewan.

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