Wednesday, June 14, 2017

$21,932.61

Source: CJME News: Saskatchewan Health Authority Board Members Named

What's this? Two blog posts in a row? While you try to get over the shock of such rapid posting, allow me to fill you into the somewhat cryptic number you find in the title of the post.

Earlier today, the Saskatchewan Government announced the board members for the soon to be amalgamated Health Region of Saskatchewan (name pending). The ten person list encompassed as the minister says:

"...a range of professional backgrounds, including governance, accounting, medicine, law, education and business." - Health Minister Jim Reiter.

But, a range of background and a future working together is not the only thing many of the new board members have in common. A little over half, that's 6 people for you playing the home game, have made contributions to the Saskatchewan Party over the last ten years.

If you don't believe me, feel free to head on over to the Elections Saskatchewan Website and check out the financial returns that parties are required to file. The returns go as far back as 2006, with a PDF file for each party. Sadly, the PDFs are non-searchable; meaning you can't just type in a name and see if it pops up...So, for the last few hours, I've been combing through eleven year's worth of financial returns.

As such, it's entirely possibly my tired eyes missed a name or two as I scoured through the list. Also, worth noting, is that these lists really only list "bigger" donors. If a person didn't contribute more than $250 in a fiscal year, their name won't appear in the return. This is also true for cash donations of under $20 made in person; which, as far as I know, are still allowed to be made without any need for paperwork on the party's side.

So, all of this information is what I consider to be the "searchable" donations. There's also the spouse and children factor. In the case of one board member, I was able to identify their spouse's name and as such, have included their donations in this total. Before you cry foul, let me explain: There are years in the records where both contributed separate amounts under $1,000; and then are years where only the spouse contributed an amount over $1,000. As such, in my opinion, it seems likely that those years the contribution was made just under one name, and I feel justified in including it in my tally.

The reason I am including these "exceptions and rules", is because it's worth keeping that in mind when we have a board member who's name doesn't appear on financial returns. Just because they don't appear, doesn't mean they didn't make a donation to the Saskatchewan Party...It may just have been a small enough donation not to end up in the report. Of note, the inverse can also be true; they may not have actually donated.

Since I can't say beyond a shadow of doubt that they did or didn't, it neither condemns nor exonerates them.

Now, let's get to the meat and potatoes of it; the following newly announced board members have made at least one contribution to the Saskatchewan Party since 2006:
  • R.W. (Dick) Carter, Chairperson
  • Grant Kook, Vice-Chair
  • Brenda Abrametz (and spouse)
  • Robert Pletch
  • Donald Rae
  • Tom Zurowski
These six people, since 2006, have contributed $21,932.61 to the Saskatchewan Party; hence the title of this post. Again, this is for the donations that can actually be tracked through the financial return. This can't account for smaller donations, especially smaller cash donations made in person at campaign or constituency events; nor does it account for contributions from spouses or children whom I could not link directly to the indicated board member. I mention this specifically, as a person who may be Mr. Carter's spouse appears in every return from 2017 - 2006, and would significantly increase the amount donated from the Carter family to the Sask Party over this time period. But, given that I cannot 100% confirm that spousal status, I'm leaving it out of our totals for now.

Of particular note, it is worth noting that nearly half (48%) of the total amount of monies donated by these 6 board members comes from a SINGLE person: Robert Pletch, who since 2006, has donated a whopping $10,447.10 to the Saskatchewan Party.

With no exception, each of the 6 board members listed have above have donated over $1,000 to the Saskatchewan Party since 2006.

The fact of the matter is: There are already a number of growing concerns over the switch to moving to a single health region; especially when considering the pratfalls that other areas of Canada have experienced while making such a move.

The Saskatchewan Government had to, let me emphasize that, HAD TO ensure that this process was undertaken in such a manner that the groundwork had to be beyond reproach. The first way of doing that: an act of good faith by not stacking the health board with Party Toadies. Instead, what we've gotten, is the complete opposite.

Even if the remaining unaccounted for 4 boards have never made a contribution to the Saskatchewan Party, as the financial records could suggest, their voices would still be easily drowned out by the 6 members who have provided over $20,000 in donations over 11 years.

By not even being able to start the process in good faith, Reiter and Wall have effectively started this process by poisoning the well. While the board members may have sterling reputations, and a few even have health board experience in the existing boards, this is completely undercut by the fact that the majority of them have ties to the sitting the government.

One act of good faith was all that was needed to suggest that the Wall Government wasn't going to make this process political or open to pratfalls...He couldn't even provide that.

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