Legislative Report (3 May 2007)

Hagel Must Go

“I don’t have reason to conclude there was a decision to conceal.”
- Glenn Hagel, NDP Gov't House Leader (May 1, 2007)

“There is a difficulty in that it’s a common place practice that organizations will often times not store their records forever. And so, there will be some records I wish I had access to that simply, to the best of my knowledge, don’t exist."
- Glenn Hagel, NDP Gov't House Leader (May 1, 2007)

Over the past few days, you’ve probably read or heard about a story involving fraud at the Office of the New Democratic Party Caucus at the Saskatchewan Legislature. The story involved a woman named Ann Lord, although she used many other names while committing many other crimes.

While employed at the NDP Caucus office, Ann Lord falsely inflated the value of some cheques, and pocketed some money. She managed to get about six thousand dollars before writing a letter detailing her crimes.

She wrote:

"It’s a serious situation and one that I would hope you could keep confidential….fraud is fraud. Can you forgive me?"

After writing the letter, Ann Lord disappeared, and was never seen in Regina again. This was 15 years ago. Now some may ask: why is this all relevant? Why dredge up a story involving such a comparatively small amount that went missing so many years ago?

First, this is taxpayers’ money. The NDP Caucus office, like the Saskatchewan Party Caucus office, is funded by the people of Saskatchewan. When substantial amounts of money go missing, the taxpayers should have certain rights. They should know about the theft. They should know there are efforts underway to recover the money. They should know the police are being brought in. And they should know steps are being taken to make sure similar losses are prevented. None of that happened in this case.

In this case, no one was told. There was no public disclosure. In fact, it was a cover-up. A Regina City Police report from 1994 quotes then-NDP MLA Pat Lorje:

"Lorje advised that it was the intention of Caucus to conceal the fact that Lord had committed fraud. One factor that influenced this decision was a previous budget leak that was embarrassing for the government."

That 1994 police report goes on to say:

"Complete disclosure to the NDP Caucus regarding the Ann Lord situation and the current problems was made in Prince Albert during the week of September 11, 1994. Lorje provided police with a confidential report that she addressed in Prince Albert."

And there you have it. Complete disclosure. Everyone knew. Every member of caucus, including Premier Lorne Calvert was aware money was missing, and was aware police had not been told. They all knew. There was just one problem: no one bothered to tell the people of Saskatchewan about missing taxpayers’ money.

This story is not just about missing money. And it’s not just about fraud. It’s really a story about a group of politicians that had a decision to make: tell the truth or cover-up a politically embarrassing situation.

Sadly, those politicians made the wrong choice. And now, people in Saskatchewan are asking a very important question:

What else is the NDP hiding?

If you have a question about this report or any other matter, just Contact Lyle.

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