Friends in High Places

There’s a story making the rounds on Facebook today about financial support that the Sask. Party government has been receiving over the last few years from civic bodies like Regina City Council, the Regina Public Library, the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan, along with a host of town councils across the province.

Here’s a link to the story as reported by CJME’s Patrick Book.

According to a website run by CUPE-represented RPL workers, who are currently embroiled in a very acrimonious labour dispute with RPL administration, Elections Saskatchewan records show that in 2009 and 2010 the Regina Public Library contributed $1,043.70 and $1,240 respectively to the Saskatchewan Party. NDP financial records for the same two years, meanwhile, show no contributions from the RPL.

As J. R. Foley used to say (in his famous Cockney accent) during interviews with the immortal Ed Whelan on Stampede Wrestling “Money talks Ed. Money talks.” And the idea of municipal and other public institutions scratching the backs of their provincial overlords is perhaps a practice that extends back beyond the current government (although in Book’s article Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco does talk about how the political landscape has changed over time), it strikes me as being pretty incestuous. Do the U of R, U of S and other public institutions really have to be Sask. Party supporters in order to have their voice heard in government?

Of course, knowing what we know at prairie dog, we recognize that being perceived as less than wholehearted  supporters of the current Saskatchewan government can carry adverse consequences.  

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your inferior human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

15 thoughts on “Friends in High Places”

  1. I know the university presidents have been turned into fundraisers extraordinaire, but why the RPL? How, why? Is that even ethical? How can a library donate to a political party? That’s pathetic.

  2. Note that the RPL director is quoted as saying that RPL Board members attend dinners held by both provincial parties. Any further comment?

  3. Since the first paragraph of that CJME article reads….
    “Regina and some other Saskatchewan cities’ taxpayer dollars are being used to get city councillors and public library board members into political dinners held by the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP.”

    This applied to both past NDP and current Sask Party gov’ts.
    So, the real answer is both Regina and the other councils involved should follow Saskatoon’s lead and end this practice. Then this ends the controversy.

  4. Even if they have to pay for it out of their own pockets, there will still be officials in attendance at such community events, because lobbying is built in to the political system at all levels.

  5. From the CJME story:

    “The Elections Saskatchewan documents show the Sask. Party receives such donations much more frequently than the NDP, while the Liberal party, the Green Party, and others rarely see corporate donations of any kind aside from the odd private business.”

  6. And I thought the library was just a nice mild-mannered place from which to rent a good book or DVD. I didn’t think that sleaze oozing from the second floor bathroom urinal was just some dude’s vomit…

  7. Whether you think this is a scandal or not, got to admit that’s a mighty fine bit of journalism from Mr Book.

    My favourite bit is where the mayor says, “important information is revealed at these dinners and it’s important to stay in the loop.” Great! Public officials at the lowest-funded level of government have to pay an admission charge to do their jobs! Nothing sketchy in that.

  8. Paul: your last paragraph contains both solid info and an overstatement. Starting with the latter: of course public officials don’t have to “pay an admission charge to do their jobs”; there are other lobbying avenues and opportunities available, and they should be well used, not just when there’s a threat to your organization’s/institution’s interests. Now to the former: the Mayor is right about the revelation of info, but he could have elaborated, because it goes both ways. The schmoozing and relationship-building at these dinners gives people a chance to talk one-on-one, dispose of misconceptions, and provide a better understanding about how organizations/institutions work.
    The money that goes toward the dinner tickets comes out of public-relations/communications funds, which do indeed come from the taxpayer — as do all other funds that no one here is making a fuss about.

    A complete reading of the article by Mr. Book would indicate that both the Sask Party and the NDP have made this a practice over the years, and that this party income must be recorded and filed. The Sask Party has consistently filed the information.

  9. Paul, the key thing to remember is that everyone does it. It’s just way things are done. It’s like typos on the Internet: unavoidable and not worth talking about.

  10. Thanks for fixing my typo, Stephen. Ooops; I talked about it. My bad.
    There’s one day left for the Regina Symphony Orchestra book and music sale, and everything is half price!

  11. Libraries are one of the last non-partisan, democratic spaces in our society.

    So if the library’s board and administrators feel they need to support political parties with public funds to achieve their mission, there should be an equal amount given to all registered parties, including the Liberals, Greens, Progressive Conservatives, Marijuana Party, etc. etc. etc.

    The fact that they’ve chosen the Sask Party over all other parties, including the NDP, who are currently the only other party capable of forming government is especially alarming given the well-known political leaning of the current RPL board chair.

    Perhaps time for her to step aside?

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