A Saskatchewan government backbencher says he made a stupid mistake when he didn’t disclose he owned shares in a business selected to operate a private liquor store.
Fred Bradshaw says he found out a couple of weeks ago that the Carrot River Inn was bidding to get the store but he didn’t realize he could be in a conflict of interest.
“I guess it just slipped my mind and it was a bad mistake on my part,” Bradshaw said Thursday. “I should have checked with the conflict of interest commissioner at that time and I should have let the minister know at that time and I did not.”
Bradshaw said the town desperately needed a new hotel a few years ago, so a bunch of people got together. He chipped in $20,000 and got a 1.4 per cent share.
The issue came to light when Jeremy Harrison, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, got a call Wednesday evening from the authority after the conflict came to the organization’s attention.
Harrison said he called Bradshaw, Premier Brad Wall and the conflict of interest commissioner.
“This is something, frankly, Mr. Bradshaw should have been aware of and it’s something that causes me a great deal of concern on a number of levels,” Harrison told reporters at the legislature.
“There are pretty clear provisions in the conflict of interest code, which members should be aware, and it’s their responsibility to be aware of those.”
It was a blunt discussion, according to the minister.
Bradshaw said the conversation was “very uncomfortable because we’re all supposed to be professionals here and that was an unprofessional mistake.”
In fact, Bradshaw did list his role as a shareholder in the Carrot River Inn on a member’s public disclosure statement in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. The statements are posted on the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly website.
Harrison said it was up to KPMG and the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority to vet the proponents. He could not say how Bradshaw’s share in the Carrot River Inn was overlooked.
The minister said he also asked all other government MLAs at a meeting Thursday morning if there were any more conflicts.
“We shouldn’t have had to go that far because members need to be aware of what their roles are and when members, individually, make mistakes, they’re going to be held accountable for that,” said Harrison.
Word of the conflict came just a day after the Saskatchewan government announced selected retailers that will operate 50 private liquor stores in the province.
The Carrot River Inn permit has since been revoked and a new request for a proposal will be issued.
Bradshaw said he will sell his share so the inn can reapply for the permit.