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'Poor choice of words': Education Minister apologizes for remarks made to Sask. mother

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On Thursday, Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill apologized for remarks he made to a mother who had advocated for better classroom supports earlier this week.

On Tuesday during a meeting in the minister’s office, Taya Thomas, a woman grieving the loss of her first born child spoke of the struggles faced by parents who need classroom supports for special needs children.

“When STF job action came up, he asked her, and this is a direct quote from Taya, ‘What do they want me to do? Give up my first born child?’” NDP MLA Aleana Young said during question period on Thursday.

Cockrill said he knew it was a mistake the moment he said it.

“In that meeting, Mr. Speaker, I used an expression that was a poor choice of words on my part,” he said during question period. “I did apologize to Ms. Thomas.”

However, that’s not how Thomas remembers the meeting.

“He did not apologize to me. I had a friend there who witnessed that. He did give me his condolences but then he made that careless comment afterwards,” she said.

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Thomas is not impressed and said she wonders what kind of person is in charge of children’s education and their future.

Young asked if Cockrill is suited for the job of being Minister of Education, a comment that had her reprimanded by Speaker Randy Weekes.

“You made two or three personal remarks to the Minister of Education. You should know that you are not allowed to do that. Please stand, withdraw and apologize,” he said.

“I withdraw and apologize,” Young responded.

Speaking to reporters after question period, Cockrill said again that he was sorry.

“I apologize for that, and I’m human. I made a mistake,” he said.

Cockrill and his staff are convinced that an apology was offered at the time the remark was made. Either way, the Education Minister has now apologized publicly. 

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