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Premier Scott Moe faces criticism over cost of bringing former PM Stephen Harper on India trip

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Premier Scott Moe is facing criticism after it was revealed that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined a recent Sask. trade mission to India.

The premier documented his trade mission on Twitter, with Harper appearing at his side in several photos over the course of the trip.

Harper joined the delegation as a private consultant. Members of the opposition posed questions to the premier and the government, asking who covered Harper’s fee.

“Why was it necessary to take an expensive, out of province consultant to India and what did it cost Saskatchewan people to take Mr. Harper on that trip?” Saskatchewan United Party Leader Nadine Wilson asked during question period.

The government didn’t provide a direct answer in the house.

“It’s important that we’re visible to our major customers, Mr. Speaker. India is a major customer,” Jim Reiter Minister of Energy and Resources said during the exchange.

The province later released a statement, explaining that the former prime minister’s firm, Harper & Associates, has had a contract with the provincial government since 2019.

“The firm provides valuable advice, access, expertise, and support to advance Saskatchewan’s economic interests around the world,” the statement read.

The contract pays $240,000 annually, while Harper is responsible for his own travel costs, the province explained.

According to Bruce Anderson, a member of the business faculty at the University of Regina, the results of Harper’s work can be measured.

“It would be fairly easy to measure whether he gives some access or not and if he doesn’t, then it’s not worth it,” he said.

“If he does gives them access and he makes those things possible, then it’s probably a worthwhile exercise.”

In its statement to CTV News, the Government of Saskatchewan stated the benefits of Harper’s contract are ‘’significant’ but did not go into more detail.

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