Regina — A new study from the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows that corporate leaders in Saskatchewan are positioned to play a major role in shaping public policy in the province, and recommends that Saskatchewan create a lobbyist registry to provide transparency about corporate lobbying efforts.
The report, titled Mapping Corporate Power in Saskatchewan, traces the ties between the major corporate contributors to both the Saskatchewan Party and the New Democratic Party, and their links to other corporate interest and advocacy groups. The research demonstrates that Saskatchewan corporations have the networks, the committed leadership, the organization, and the access to government to play a large role in shaping public policy.
Corporate leaders like Paul J. Hill of the Hill Group, Bill Doyle of PotashCorp, and Gavin Semple of Brandt Industries also maintain links with nationally prominent interest and advocacy groups. As economic power shifts to the Canadian west, Saskatchewan corporate leaders are poised to wield greater political power and influence at both the provincial and national level.
As record amounts of corporate money flood our political system, Saskatchewan needs a publicly accessible lobbyist registry to let citizens track corporate lobbying. As one of the few provinces that do not currently have a lobbyist registry, Saskatchewan is vulnerable to the perception that corporations have undue influence with both major political parties.
Along with this important recommendation, the report also highlights a number of significant issues regarding corporate participation in our political process:
- The Saskatchewan Party received more than 6 times the corporate contributions of the provincial NDP between 2008 to 2011.
- Even with the inclusion of trade union contributions, the Saskatchewan Party still eclipses the NDP in contributions by a ratio of just under 6 to 1.
- In only one of the years under study (2010) did trade union contributions exceed corporate contributions to the NDP, challenging the myth that the NDP is principally funded by “big labour.”
- Of the top 28 corporate contributors to the Saskatchewan Party between 2008 and 2010, 48% were based in Saskatchewan while 42% were based in Alberta.
- For the New Democrats, 56% of the top 28 corporate contributors were Saskatchewan based, with 21% hailing from Alberta during the same period.
- The most “well-connected” CEOs were the Hill Group’s Paul J. Hill, PotashCorp’s Bill Doyle and Brandt Industries’ Gavin Semple.
- The most “well-connected” firms were MacPherson Leslie and Tyerman LLP, Cameco and PotashCorp.
- Saskatchewan urgently needs a publicly accessible, online lobbyist registry that would identify the nature of lobbying efforts between corporations and other interest groups and our government.
- Individual owners who make political contributions to political parties through numbered corporations should be clearly identified in Elections Saskatchewan filings in order to dispel the common perception that such companies are merely "shells" designed to funnel money into the political system without accountability.
- A wider conversation should be had regarding the desirability of banning corporate and trade union political contributions altogether. Such a move would help reverse the public perception of undue influence and political favoritism that such contributions often contribute to.
The report was prepared by the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, in partnership with the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) and the Community Research Unit (CRU).
To read the full report: www.policyalternatives.ca
For more information, contact the Saskatchewan Office: Phone: 306.924.3372 Email: [email protected]