Pinehouse village office goes silent over payments for Harpauer’s holiday weekends

In a review report issued just this morning, Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has found that the Northern Village of Pinehouse has refused an Access to Information request related to Finance Minister Donna Harpauer’s (Social Services Minister in 2016) and her partner’s all-expenses-paid weekends in the Pinehouse in August 2016 and 2018.  And in his Review Report 066-2019 the Commissioner recommends that the Village:

(a) release the information to the applicant, and

(b) develop a policy  and  procedure for  processing  access  to information requests and submit that to the Ministry of Government Relations and to the Commissioner’s office within 30 days.

The original Access to Information/Freedom of Information request was submitted to the Northern Village of Pinehouse in January 2019 and read:

We know from a news report by MBC Radio (“Harpauer cleared of conflict of interest in accepting accommodations paid for by Pinehouse” by Dan Jones and Fraser Needham, Dec 18, 2018), Donna Harpauer and her conjugal partner visited Pinehouse at least twice, in Aug. 2016 and Aug. 2018.

I wish to have copies of the Northern Village of Pinehouse’s financial transaction records indicating payment by the Village in these instances or any other such visits for:

(1) Ms. Harpauer’s and/or her partner’s hotel accommodation;

(2) Any other meals or other considerations paid by the Village for Ms. Harpauer and/or her partner on the occasion of those visits;

(3) Any expenses and/or fees for guide services provided for Ms. Harpauer and/or her partner by John Durocher Jr. on those occasions;

AND

(4) the budget/sub-account name and number in the financial records to which these transactions were attributed.

NOTE: Payment may not have been made for several months following the visits.

Minister Harpauer has already acknowledged that her hotel accommodation for these two visits was paid by the Village.  The applicant (unnamed in the Commissioner’s report) claims that he had received credible information that, on both holiday weekends, the Village also paid the fishing guide services for Ms. Harpauer’s partner.  The applicant made the ATI request in order to verify that information and to determine how those transactions were reflected in the Village’s financial records.

In his review report, the Commissioner writes, “This is now the 16th Review Report issued by my office involving the Village between 2013 and 2019. Fifteen of these reports deal with section 7 responses not being provided, delays in providing it or responses being inadequate. In  addition, the Village did not cooperate with requests by my office in 13 of these cases.”