Records shows the top individual donors to the Sask Party last year were tied to corporate wealth
Guess who the top donors to Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan Party were last year?
According to a new analysis of Elections Saskatchewan records by PressProgress, the top individual donors to the Sask Party are elite members of Saskatchewan’s influential business establishment.
Since 2006, corporate donations have accounted for nearly half of all funds to the right-wing Sask Party, with a big chunk coming from out-of-province corporations — many of which are based in Alberta.
The Sask Party’s individual donors are largely cut from the same cloth.
Over 60% of the Sask Party’s top 25 individual donors in 2019 appear to be current or former corporate executives in construction, finance, or resource extraction.
Other individual donors include lobbyists representing companies in construction and agriculture.
Here’s a closer look at the Sask Party’s top five donors in 2019:
Dow is the mayor of a small Saskatchewan hamlet, donated $10,240 in 2019. Since 2006, Dow has donated a total of $90,961 to the Saskatchewan Party.
Dow was in the news back in 2018 after members of his tiny community demanded a financial probe into a controversial rezoning scheme that proposed residents sell their homes or lose access to clean water.
Graham, the retired President and CEO of Graham Group Ltd., made a $10,000 individual donation in 2019. Since 2006, he has donated $15,000 to the Party.
The same year, the University of Saskatchewan announced it would be naming a new school after Graham following a $1 million donation.
Graham Group Ltd. and the Graham Group of Companies, have made an additional $36,560 in corporate donations to the Sask Party since 2006.
Belsher donated $5,600 to the Saskatchewan Party in 2019 and a total of $27,402 since 2006. Belsher is the former president and co-owner of Weldon’s Concrete.
In 2018, the University of Saskatchewan opened Merlis Belsher Place, a cutting edge athletics facility that is named in honour of Belsher. The facility that contains two NHL-sized ice surfaces, as well as an NBA-sized basketball court that is named after Sask Party donor Ronald Graham.
Halyk, president and CEO Founder of Total Energy Services based out of Calgary, Alberta, donated $5,000 to the Saskatchewan Party in 2019. He also donated $500 in 2006 for a total of $5,500.
Halyk identifies Calgary as his place of residence and is also a top donor to Alberta’s United Conservative Party. In 2017, Halyk donated to Jason Kenney’s UCP leadership campaign.
Leverick, President and CEO of Alliance Energy Ltd., made a $5,000 Saskatchewan Party donation in 2019. Since 2006 he’s donated a total of $11,490.
Leverick’s company, Alliance Energy, has made $83,384 in corporate donations to the Saskatchewan Party since 2006. Leverick has sat on the board of Sask Power since 2008.
Other notable donors
Other top 25 donors include Gavin Semple, the retired CEO of the Brandt Group of Companies and his wife Annette. Together, they donated $7,000 in 2019 and a total of $25,892 since 2006.
Brandt Industries, Brandt Tractor and Brandt Tractor (Saskatoon) have donated a total of $176,246 to the Saskatchewan Party since 2006.
In 2019, Brandt came under public scrutiny when CBC revealed the province would lease public land to the company for only 1$ a year. Councillor Bob Hawkins called it a “sweetheart deal” and a “huge windfall” for the company.
Shantel Lipp, President of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association, an group that regularly lobbies the Saskatchewan government, donated $3,000 in 2019 and a total of $8,496 since 2006.
Lipp became president of the SHCA in 2009. In 2010, the SHCA began donating to the Saskatchewan Party, contributing a total of $22,075.
SCHA Board Chairman Allan Barilla boasted, “we have the ear of the government probably better than any other association in Western Canada; maybe all of Canada.”
“Shantel has exceeded our hopes of having access to our government officials,” he added.
Tyler Willox, a board member of the Canada Growth Council, donated $3,575 in 2019 and a total of $15,585 since 2015.
The CGC was behind another group called WestWatch, which ran attack ads during the 2019 federal election.
CGC describes itself as a “group of motivated individuals that are simply fed up with anti-growth propaganda, foreign-funded activist groups and the absence of strong voices that advocate on behalf of free-enterprise and prosperity in Canada.”