Wednesday, November 07, 2012

On delayed releases

I'll have plenty to catch up on over the next few days. But I'll start by pointing out the background behind what's become one of the most-discussed stories of the past week on the Saskatchewan political scene.

It's well and good that we've eventually learned the results of the report from the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and SaskFilm showing just how much return we get from investing in the film industry.

But a week ago, that report was still being hidden from public view by the parties who commissioned it. And it took a public challenge from NDP MLA Danielle Chartier to both determine who had the authority to release the report, and make sure that the facts were eventually made public - notwithstanding that the contents were apparently known to the government a month earlier:
Culture Minister Kevin Doherty said the study, which was commissioned by the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and Sask-Film, was presented to him about a month ago during a meeting that also included representation from the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry Association.

"What the report shows is that there is an economic benefit to the province of Saskatchewan from the film industry," Doherty told reporters on Monday at the Legislative Building after question period, during which the issue was raised by NDP culture critic Danielle Chartier.

Chartier said she has heard the study shows the net cost to taxpayers from the old refundable film employment tax credit was less than the $1 million per year budgeted by the government for its new, non-refundable replacement.
And that sequence of events raises more than a few questions. For example, would we ever have heard about the actual costs of the Sask Party's decision if Chartier hadn't heard about - and raised - the issue? Why did the parties who commissioned the report choose not to let the public in on a matter of public concern? And how much more information about the negative effects of Saskatchewan Party policies is being similarly withheld from the public?

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