The questions continued in the Legislature Wednesday about the expenses and itinerary of the trip Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan took to Paris for the World Nuclear Exhibition in November. Duncan attended in his position as the Minister Responsible for SaskPower as the Crown corporation looks at building small nuclear reactors.  

The questions started with opposition NDP MLA Aleana Young asking why Duncan gave two different answers about his itinerary, stating in the Legislature he did not miss any meetings to go sightseeing, then telling reporters in the rotunda of the Legislature he took a tour of the museum that houses Napoleon’s tomb.  

“I said that because the member was suggesting yesterday in this house that I was missing meetings that I had previously scheduled to do personal things, and that was not the case, Mr. Speaker,” Duncan said during Question Period. “Out meetings had completed in the morning, Mr. Speaker and there was time, a few hours time, in between the morning and the afternoon meetings.” 

He then outlined the 15 formal meetings he conducted over the five days he was in Paris for the exhibition.  

The cost of the shuttle service used by Duncan and the rest of the delegation at the exhibition was also brought up. The shuttle service itself came at a cost of $3,500. The cost, and the method, were defended by Duncan. He had previously noted to the media that while Mercedes is considered a luxury brand in Saskatchewan the vehicles are more commonplace in Europe. 

“The use of a van service to travel in large European cities like Paris, Mr. Speaker, for government business, is not unusual by this government or by the previous NDP government,” Duncan pointed out. “Certainly what we use in terms of the van service, Mr. Speaker, has provided a similar cost that has been provided in the past.” 

Young along with NDP Leader Carla Beck also called on Duncan to apologize for the expense, with both pointing to an incident in 2014 involving former Social Services Minister June Draude and cabinet secretary Rick Mantey that saw the province billed $3,600 for car services in London, UK. It was originally $4,400 however $800 had been paid back by the pair.  

“Nearly 10 years ago today, June Draude was in hot water for hiring a private chauffeur to drive her and Rick Mantey around London for $3,600,” Young said in asking a question of Duncan. “Now, Mr. Speaker, Brad Wall knew that wouldn’t fly with Saskatchewan people. The dollars were repaid and Mr. Mantey was moved out of a job. The SaskPower Minister was an MLA back then. Will he apologize for wasting $3,500 on a Mercedes chauffeur?” 

Beck repeated the question.  

“Leaders lead. Former Premier Brad Wall knew that. That’s why under his watch, Mr. Speaker, public dollars that were wasted on June Draude’s private chauffeur service were repaid. Now, if the minister won’t apologize for a $3,500 private Mercedes chauffeur service, the premier should. That’s what Brad Wall would have done.” 

Premier Scott Moe fielded the question from Beck, stepping up to defend the expenses on the account.  

“We’ve seen a number of accusations, Mr. Speaker, questioning the integrity of a member on the floor of this assembly come across here today,” Moe said. “Mr. Speaker, this is a member... The member from Weyburn I would say is a member that approaches his elected position on behalf of his constituents in Weyburn and surrounding area, as well as the broader Saskatchewan residents as a minister, Mr. Speaker, with some of the greatest degree of effort that I have seen, some of the most respectful approaches that I have seen. He approaches this position; he doesn’t take it lightly. He displays a tremendous amount of integrity and most of all, honesty, Mr. Speaker, in all that he does.”