Question Period
(14 April 2015)

From Hansard - 14 April 2015

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Farm Land Ownership

Ms. Sproule: — Mr. Speaker, the government has finally announced that it will freeze future farm land purchases by pension plans and institutional investors. Surely the Assiniboia land deal with Canada Pension Plan should also finally be considered inappropriate by the minister. This special Assiniboia land deal delivered huge benefits to two Sask Party insiders, and a former manager of the Farm Land Security Board says that special deal was bizarre.

To the minister: why did this government approve this bizarre deal and why should Sask Party insiders get special treatment?

Hon. Mr. Stewart: — I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member for that question. There’s certainly no insider deal and there’s certainly no special treatment. That deal was allowed to happen because the Ministry of Justice provided a legal opinion that it was a proper deal and that it probably could not be stopped.

Ms. Sproule: — Mr. Speaker, I don’t understand why the Sask Party government can’t admit that it was wrong to let that massive special land deal go ahead — a $128 million deal for Saskatchewan farm land which delivered huge benefits to the Premier’s former senior advisor and the Sask Party’s former executive directors. No other deals like that will be allowed. So it’s not surprising that more and more Saskatchewan people are starting to question: why is it that this government seems more interested in looking out for its friends than standing up for Saskatchewan people?

To the minister: will this government require CPP [Canada Pension Plan] to divest itself of Saskatchewan farm land holdings?

Hon. Mr. Stewart: — Well thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have recently announced, as recently as yesterday, that there will be a conversation with the people of Saskatchewan over the course of this summer about farm land ownership in the province, including mainly the two main issues of foreign ownership and as well institutional owners, ownership by institutional investors. Mr. Speaker, the details of that consultation will be announced this spring and the consultation will carry on throughout much of the summer, giving everyone in the province who is interested an opportunity to respond and provide the government with their views on farm land ownership.

Mr. Speaker, I don’t know what more we could do. We’re going to listen to the people of Saskatchewan and we’re going to act accordingly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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