REGINA — Premier Brad Wall says he will stop getting more pay from the Saskatchewan Party, but don't look for changes to political donation laws.
Wall has been getting about $37,000 a year from the party on top of his government salary, but the premier says he has asked the party to stop paying it because there are negative perceptions about what the allowance might imply.
"To the extent that there's any misunderstanding or misperception of what this is, I just think it's not worth it," Wall said Monday at the legislature in Regina.
"I don't want that to reflect on the government or on the party."
The party says in a statement that the stipend has been a long-standing practice because it was felt that the leader does a lot of work beyond duties in the legislature.
But the Opposition NDP has questioned how much of that bonus money comes from out-of-province corporate donors to the party and whether it bought access to the premier's office.
Wall rejected that suggestion.
"I'm telling you that has never happened and will never happen," he said.
Wall said the Saskatchewan Party raises about $4 million a year from donations, so his $37,000 was one per cent of what the party raises.
"So I can tell you that there's no special consideration given to anyone based on a calculation someone might do of one per cent of some ticket they bought to a leader's dinner, but this should be also about perception, and I understand that."
Wall is believed to be the last premier to get such a salary supplement.
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said in January that she would no longer get her Liberal party's $50,000 annual stipend.
Wall earns $96,183 for being a member of the legislature and $69,954 for being premier, for a total of $166,137. That makes him the ninth highest paid premier behind Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia, B.C., Nunavut, Quebec, Northwest Territories and Manitoba, according to a list provided by the Saskatchewan government.
Interim NDP Leader Trent Wotherspoon figures Wall has collected about $500,000 over the years.
"Seriously, it took half a million dollars for the premier to figure out this is wrong?" said Wotherspoon.
"It's been offensive and wrong from the get-go. It should have been scrapped a long time ago. It never should have happened, and I guess, you know this is recognition of it being wrong."
Wotherspoon said the government also needs to get big money out of Saskatchewan politics.
There are no donation limits for contributing to registered political parties or candidates in Saskatchewan; however, donations can only be made by Canadian citizens.
The Opposition has long said Saskatchewan's political donation laws are the weakest in the country and say they often are described as the Wild West.
Last November, Wotherspoon said it's time to stop corporate, union and out-of-province donations, and called for a cap on individual contributions.
The Saskatchewan Party has received nearly $30 million in donations over the last decade and about 10 per cent came from corporations with headquarters outside Saskatchewan.
Wall said the political process and how elections are financed has served the province well, "so we don't see any changes required to election finance."
Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press