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Politics

Commissioner finds Bill Boyd breached the Conflict of Interest Act

It started out as a business trip to China – it ended up as a breach of MLA responsibilities, removal from caucus and what many would argue is a black eye for the government of outgoing Premier Brad Wall. The province's Conflict of Interest Commissioner says MLA Bill Boyd broke the rules and failed to meet the expectations of sitting members. David Baxter has more on the MLA who helped found the Saskatchewan Party, yet leaves that same party under a cloud.

The Conflict of Interest Commissioner Ronald Barclay has found Saskatchewan Party MLA Bill Boyd breached the Conflict of Interest Act by misrepresenting himself and the Government of Saskatchewan during a business trip to China.

Boyd travelled to China in March of 2017 to make a presentation to potential investors with the Modern Hi-Efficiency Agricultural Corporation.

Modern Hi-Efficiency’s name has since been changed to Agrotarget Corporation.

Boyd was not listed as a legal director of the company at the time, but had previously described himself as chairman.

Promotional materials for the seminar called Boyd “Saskatchewan Minister of the Economy”, a positioned he resigned in August 2016. The promotional materials also included Government of Saskatchewan logos, and the logo appeared on “nearly every slide” in the presentation, according to Barclay’s report.

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“I am satisfied that Mr. Boyd used his office in an attempt to influence other persons (the potential investors),” Barclay said in his report.

For $300,000, investors would own 80 per cent of an irrigation pivot. Barclay found that some of this equipment would be used to water farmland owned by Boyd, and he would receive financial benefit from these actions.

Premier Brad Wall has asked for and received his immediate resignation from the caucus.

READ MORE: Sask. NDP calls on RCMP to investigate Bill Boyd

“Even though Mr. Boyd has already announced his resignation from the Legislative Assembly effective September 1, 2017, I take very seriously the Commissioner’s findings and believe his removal from Caucus for his few remaining days as an MLA is warranted,” Premier Wall said in a statement.

Wall has referred the Commissioner’s findings to the Ministry of Justice to see if legal action is required.

Finally, Wall has asked Boyd to cease and desist all activities related to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP).

Seminar attendees were told that Modern Hi-Efficiency would assist investors obtaining permanent residency in Canada by applying to SINP through the entrepreneur category.

“In my view MLAs are not to use their office to promote private interests,” Barclay said. “A member ultimately owes their position to the public whose business they are conducting.”

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Boyd released a statement of his own Monday afternoon, taking full responsibility for his actions.

“It never was intention to be in a conflict in any way, however, I made an error in judgment and for that, I am truly sorry. I would like to apologize to Premier Wall, all MLAs and the Saskatchewan people. I have resigned from caucus effective immediately,” Boyd said.

The Opposition NDP have long been critical of Boyd and his involvement in land dealings near the Global Transportation Hub, repeatedly calling him a “scandal-plagued minister”.

“It comes as no surprise to us,” interim NDP leader Nicole Sarauer said shortly after receiving the report.

Now, Sarauer said she wants to hear the Saskatchewan Party Leadership candidates address Boyd.

“What Mr. Boyd did was allow for himself to resign, instead of what would be the worst punishment of having him lose his seat,” she said.

Sarauer added that the NDP will be looking into possible sanctions that can be enforced based on the report.

With files from Emily Pasiuk

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