I have attended many a political fundraiser over the years, generally as a reporter.
The last time was the Premier’s Annual Dinner in Regina 12 months ago.
As dessert was being cleared away, Brad Wall sat down with me in front of TV cameras and gave me a very dutiful 20 minute interview.
It was for my weekly program Currie’s Corner on Access TV.
As such interviews go, it was fairly ‘unremarkable’.
But it may well be the last time the two of us get to talk one-on-one on the record.
Wall managed to win re-election last November without ever appearing on Talk of the Town.
That was his choice and I’m sure it did him no political harm as the Saskatchewan Party scored a landslide victory over the NDP.
Politics in Saskatchewan is second only to the battles involving the Roughriders when it comes to ‘blood sports’, and the political fundraiser has achieved a bit of a strange status.
When I attended that Sask Party bunfest, I was a bit surpized to see just about every member of Regina City Council.
It turns out there was very easy explanation.
Regina taxpayers bought the tickets for them at more than 200 dollars a pop.
Documents released by the province’s Chief Electoral Officer show that the city of Regina has spent more than $5,000 over the past five years so that all councillors could attend major fundraisers put on both the Sask Party and the NDP.
Lameduck Mayor Pat Fiacco says it’s a completely proper use of taxpayers money.
He says the public expects council to have a good relationship with the province’s two major political parties.
He says great information is shared at such dinners, and it’s important for city politicians to attend.
If homeowners were asked a direct question such as “Are you OK with your property tax dollars being used to buy a free meal for your councilor at a political fundraiser ? “, would we hear the same answer that Pat Fiacco puts forward?
Somehow I doubt it, but chances are we’ll never know because it’s one of a long list of valid questions that taxpayers will never be asked.
Mayor Don Atchison and the gang in Saskatoon got it right.
Several of them attend similar dinners in the Bridge city, but they pay for their own tickets.
In doing so, by the way, they get a substantial deduction on their income tax.
The Saskatoon approach is the right one for many important reasons. Hopefully Regina’s next mayor will realize that and make changes.
Roger Currie is a Regina writer, broadcaster and blogger.
He currently hosts Talk of the Town every weekday at Noon, 4pm and 10pm on Access channel 7.
He will be relocating to Winnipeg at the end of April.
He can be reached at email@example.com