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Emails show Sask. minister acted to 'get around the rules' in hiring

Emails show Sask. minister acted to 'get around the rules' in hiring
From CBC - October 12, 2017

A series of private emails written by then-Saskatchewan Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer reveal her secret plans to work around the rules in the hiring of a senior government official years ago.

Months after the Saskatchewan Party came to power, Harpauer had concluded the ministry was intransigent and broken.

In a March 8, 2008 email she wrote, "beyond a doubt the civil servants are still running the showThe obvious very simple strategy involves giving their new minister false information or incomplete information and keeping them overwhelmed with trivial crises. When questioned everyone plays stupid."

The PublicServiceCommission isgetting all crappy about us hiring people without open competitionBlahBlahBlah. Lots of fun. I really do not care what theythink! - DonnaHarpauerin 2008 email

She wrote that email from her private account to Tim Korol, a former police officer who had worked on her election campaign. She offered him a job as assistant deputy minister, hoping he could come in and set things right.

But she realized that may be tough, given the current rules.

"I will hire you by contract if need be to get around the rules defined by the [Public Service Commission]," Harpauer told Korol in an April 5, 2008 email.

She said the commission, which is the central human resources agency for the province, had been getting in the way of the new government's plans.

"The Public Service Commission is getting all crappy about us hiring people without open competitionBlahBlahBlah. Lots of fun. I really do not care what they think!!" she wrote to Korol on June 24, 2008.

This was one of dozens of private email exchanges CBC's iTeam has obtained between Harpauer and Korol.

Korol concerned about private emails

The emails were provided to CBC by Korol himself, after recent revelations that the Premier's Office and other cabinet ministers have been using private email accounts to conduct some government business.

In releasing the emails, he's sending the government a message.

"This is wrong. This is not the way we should expect our government to work," Korol said in a recent interview.

He said when he was first hired in the fall of 2008, he was told to write sensitive emails from his private account because "we wanted to be free from the freedom of information requests."

Korol points out it's not illegal to use a personal email account for government business, but he has come to believe it is unethical because it might thwart transparency.

Ironically, some of the email skulduggery was done in order to hire him to his position in the first place.

Harpauer derides 'culture of secrecy' from her private email

In early 2008, Harpauer was at her wits' end.

"The last two weeks have finally pushed me over the edge. The culture of cover up within Social Services is astounding," she wrote from her personal email account to Korol on March 21, 2008.

In an effort to change that culture, she planned to bring on Korol.

She wrote that her then-chief of staff, Laurie Pushor, was "working hard to get around all the barriers in making changes to the public servants," and he was working on finding a "back door" approach for Korol's hiring.

Frustrated by 'an antique piece of legislation'

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