An apology was given Thursday by a long-time Saskatchewan Party backbencher.
Carrot River MLA Fred Bradshaw didn’t disclose he owns shares in the business that won the tender to own the liquor store in that town.
On Wednesday, the government announced the successful bidders for the 50 stores new or privatized stores.
Among them was Elvira Pompu, owner of the Carrot River Inn and Cilantro Restaurant and Lounge.
But a search by officials at Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) revealed that Bradshaw is a 1.4 per cent shareholder in that business.
It is something Bradshaw should have revealed himself when he realized two weeks before it came to light by SLGA.
“I guess it just slipped my mind and it was a bad mistake on my part,” Bradshaw explained. “I should have checked with the conflict of interest commissioner at that time and I should have checked with the minister at that time.”
Bradshaw has owned the small amount of shares for roughly four years, stemming back to when Carrot River was in danger of losing its motel. Around 250 residents of the community came together with money to buy the facility. Bradshaw gave $20,000, making him a shareholder. He has never attended board meetings nor does he have anything to do with the running of the hotel.
All MLAs in the Saskatchewan Legislature must sign a code of conduct and list any business ownership that may cause conflict.
Bradshaw has been an MLA since 2007.
“It was a bad mistake on my part and I apologize for it,” he said.
But the mistake made for what Bradshaw described as an “uncomfortable” conversation with the Premier and SLGA Minister Jeremy Harrison.
“This is something frankly Mr. Bradshaw should have been aware of, it’s something that causes me a great deal of concern,” Harrison said.
“There are pretty clear provisions in the conflict of interest code which members should be aware of and it’s their responsibility to be aware of those.”
Harrison must now retender the sale of the Carrot River store.
NDP MLA Nicole Sarauer, who has been critical of the privatization of liquor stores, calls that a waste.
“It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars frankly and it’s upsetting that this wasn’t done right the first time,” she argued. “I would like a more open and transparent process entirely, I’ve been asking time and time questions about the RFP process and what was included in that process and haven’t been getting any answers.”
The Carrot River business group under Elvira Pompu can rebid for the store so long as Bradshaw is no longer a shareholder.
Bradshaw intends to sell the shares.