Laying the Diefenbaker Trust Fund on the table

Tyler Clarke
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The John Diefenbaker statue is seen outside of city hall.

An exhaustive 151-page report on the Diefenbaker Trust fund has found no issues with the way money was spent over the last decade.


The massive document was made public for Monday’s city council meeting; it included various pieces of correspondence dating back as far as 1996.

Commending administration for putting together such a detailed report, Coun. Rick Orr noted during Monday’s meeting that it has been a long time coming.

“It was one of the items that I know was a contentious issue coming into council,” he said. “The public wanted transparency … and I think there’s been lot of transparency in the report.”

The report, by city solicitor Ken Paskaruk, explicitly notes that nothing unbecoming has taken place with the fund since it was re-established in 1985.

Fund withdrawals have always been consistent with its intended purpose of “insulating the tax base against operational costs that from time to time exceeded council’s contractually required operating grant for the (E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts),” Paskaruk’s report reads.

It reveals that the principle bequest of $217,000 from the estate of John G. Diefenbaker has never been spent.

Despite taking on different forms and receiving cash infusions and drawdowns over the decades, the trust fund currently totals about $460,000.

During the fund’s early years, Diefenbaker’s bequest was “inadvertently rolled into the city’s general operations and was re-established into a separate municipal fund until its intended use could be fulfilled,” Paskaruk’s report reads.

It was one of the items that I know was a contentious issue coming into council. Rick Orr

The re-established amount reached $276,195 by 1985 and by 1996 the invested amount grew to $750,000.

Over the years, drawdowns from the trust fund always followed the stipulations of Diefenbaker’s will -- that it go toward a community facility (the E. A. Rawlinson Centre).

In 1996, the city pledged the trust fund to the Prince Albert Arts Board for what would eventually turn into the E. A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts.

Several contributions toward the fund have also taken place, including those by the Kinsmen Club. At its peak in 2003, the fund reached about $1.25 million.

E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts operational shortfalls and the poor investment market of 2008-09 subsequently drew down the trust fund account total.

An extensive rundown of four special drawdowns between January 2005 and September of 2010 are included in Paskaruk’s report, including many pieces of correspondence.

Like all drawdowns, these four special drawdowns went toward E. A. Rawlinson Centre shortfalls.

Currently, the majority of the $460,000 trust fund has been invested in “a secure guaranteed investment vehicle to ensure no further erosion occurs,” Paskaruk’s report reads.

City council plans on working with the Prince Albert Arts Board to replenish the fund -- a plan that has yet to be presented. 

Organizations: Diefenbaker Trust Fund, E.A. Rawlinson Centre, E. A. Rawlinson Centre Prince Albert Arts Board Kinsmen Club

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