Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall says the province is thinking twice about legislation that allows up to 49 percent of a Crown-owned corporation — like regional carrier SaskTel — to be sold without being considered privatized.
Wall spoke with The Canadian Press, noting that the ruling Saskatchewan Party has fielded many concerns over the legislation since it passed into law this May.
“I was certainly of the view that the people of the province would see a partnership that did not lose majority control for the people of Saskatchewan as just that — and not a privatization where you’ve lost control and you can’t control the head office,” he told The Canadian Press, adding: “But, you know, to the extent that I may not have read that correctly on behalf of the people that own the Crown corporation, we’re going to find out. We’re going to continue to do the work and be responsive to that.”
The Premier and his party previously argued that the legislation, Bill 40, actually protects Crown assets, ensuring the province will still own a controlling stake of companies if a transaction takes place.
“It’s not for sale. It’s certainly open to partnerships, as of right now. There is no particular proposal on the table, as far as I know.”
Following the privatization of Manitoba’s MTS regional carrier, SaskTel is now the only remaining Crown-owned telecom and regional carrier in Western Canada — a somewhat vulnerable position, as identified in the carrier’s own risk assessment.
Wall reassured The Canadian Press, however, that the carrier is not at risk of sale — though partnerships may be a different story.
“It’s not for sale. It’s certainly open to partnerships, as of right now. There is no particular proposal on the table, as far as I know,” said Wall.
“Here’s my priority for SaskTel: it’s not an ownership structure change, frankly. Right now the priority for SaskTel is to improve coverage for this province.”
The Minister responsible for SaskTel, Dustin Duncan, spoke about partnerships for the carrier in July, stating: “I would say that there has been discussions around a potential partnership that the government, certainly, and I feel warrant some further investigation and some further discussion.”
Wall also echoed his thoughts on the potential benefit of a SaskTel partnership in March.