The NDP could receive legislative sanctions for leaking the budget.
Like members of the media, the opposition receives the budget document in advance, but must sign embargo forms promising not to release information before it is tabled in the legislature.
At around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, just over an hour before the finance minister stood to deliver the budget, a mass email was sent from the NDP’s account to both the media and the public, containing details of that budget.
NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon apologized for that breach, but the government introduced a motion Thursday to consider punishment for the opposition.
“That the early release of embargoed budget information by the Member from Saskatoon Nutana and the Opposition Caucus clearly constitutes contempt of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan by preventing all members from exercising their duties and responsibilities as Members of the Legislative Assembly, and further; that this matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges for a full investigation and a report with a remedy to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly.”
NDP house leader Warren McCall spoke to the matter.
“That apology was tendered sincerely and without reservation, it had nothing to do with malicious intent, it was in fact an honest mistake.”
Such a breach by an opposition has only happened once before in Saskatchewan.
The Liberals made the same mistake when Roy Romanow was premier.
The imposed penalty at that time was several months of not receiving any embargoed information, like advisories or technical briefings. Instead, the Liberal opposition had to receive their information at the same time news releases were sent out to the public.
The standing committee on privilege is now considering punishment for the NDP’s breach which could leave them too without early access to government documents.