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The Saskatchewan Party’s Top Corporate Donor From Alberta is Run By Calgary Millionaire W. Brett Wilson

Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan Party has received millions in out-of-province donations from companies based in Alberta

Calgary-based celebrity millionaire W. Brett Wilson is sending care packages across the Alberta-Saskatchewan border in the form of big money political donations to Scott Moe’s right-wing Saskatchewan Party.

Wilson is best known from the CBC reality TV show “Dragons Den” and he is also a co-owner of the NHL’s Nashville Predators.

Wilson is also known for his incendiary political commentary. Earlier this year, the Predators hockey club distanced themselves from Wilson after he accused Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi of playing the “race card.”

He also labels critics of Alberta’s oil industry as “foreign-funded” protesters and has openly called for them to be hung for “treason.”

But next door in Saskatchewan, the outside money appears to be flowing in the other direction from Wilson’s headquarters in Calgary.

According to Elections Saskatchewan records, the colourful reality TV personality’s company was the top out-of-province donor from Alberta to the Sask Party in 2019.

In 2019, Prairie Merchant Corp made a $9,000 donation to the Sask Party.

Other Alberta-based corporate donations to the Sask Party in 2019 included Enbridge ($8,790), Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. ($7,590) and Agincourt Investments ($7,500).

The Sask Party receives sizeable funds from out-of-province corporate donations, with a big chunk coming from Alberta oil companies.

Graphic: PressProgress

In a statement to PressProgress, Wilson said he “grew up” in Saskatchewan and is “heavily invested in the Saskatchewan agriculture sector, so Saskatchewan is a material business platform for Prairie Merchant Corp.”

Wilson said those who question why an Alberta-based corporation is funding political parties in a neighbouring province “aren’t so bright.”

“Is there a reason I should not invest in the Sask Party?” the Calgary millionaire asked.

In addition to his 2019 donation, Prairie Merchant Corp also gave the Sask Party $5,000 in 2016 while the party was led by Brad Wall.

Wilson has also been involved in a right-wing group called theBuffalo Project, a third party political advertiser that counts Wall as one of its key founders.

“Brad Wall was involved in the formation of the Buffalo Project,” Buffalo Project co-founder Bill Turnbull told PressProgress. “W. Brett Wilson advised early on in the process.”

Wilson told PressProgress he is “fully supportive” of the Buffalo Project.

The group takes its name from a 1905 plan to merge Alberta and Saskatchewan into one province — although the group denies it advocates for Western separatism.

Wilson’s business dealings took a hit following the 2014 collapse in oil prices. According to an affidavit filed by ATB Financial, Wilson was listed as a director of Forent Energy when it went belly-up in May 2017, leaving the province with millions of dollars in orphaned well cleanup costs.

Saskatchewan has the loosest campaign finance laws in Canada, an arrangement that allows the Sask Party to fund itself with millions in out-of-province donations primarily from corporations — roughly one-fifth of the party’s corporate donations came from outside Saskatchewan in 2018, mainly from Alberta-based companies.

Saskatchewan’s lack of corporate donation limits have raised concerns that the public interest has been compromised by out-of-province corporate money.

 


 

Update: This story has been updated to include comments from W. Brett Wilson which were supplied after publication.

 

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PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

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