Saskatchewan government and Opposition squabble over T-shirts used in campaign

REGINA – Saskatchewan politicians are squabbling about T-shirts after the government noted that an Opposition fundraising campaign used shirts made in the U.S.

Premier Brad Wall raised the issue in Thursday’s question period during a back-and-forth exchange on the government’s procurement policy.

The Opposition New Democrats have been championing a private member’s bill they say will make Saskatchewan companies more competitive in contract bids.

Leader Cam Broten told reporters it was a mistake if the T-shirts were made in the United States and the fundraiser has been scrapped.

The NDP said the T-shirts were not being sold directly by the party, but instead by an individual on behalf of a Regina constituency.

Broten said the focus should be on the government’s procurement policy, which he said hurts businesses.

“They express huge frustration about this government’s really short-sighted, naive, simplistic approach to government procurement,” he said.

The NDP has criticized the government’s current policy for looking at the lowest initial price in procuring products and services. The categories laid out in the private member’s bill include local knowledge, product history and previous performance on government contracts. It also includes quality, supplier experience, warranty, delivery schedule, initial price and final total price.

Gordon Wyant, who is the minister responsible for SaskBuilds, said the private member’s bill is problematic.

“We’ve been doing a considerable amount of work at Priority Saskatchewan to investigate the issues around procurement, to make sure procurement is fair for all Saskatchewan businesses,” he said. “The Opposition has tabled a bill, it’s a very short bill, it’s devoid of definition, devoid of process.”

Wyant added the government is looking at what can be changed in the context of the province’s trade agreements.