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Sask. NDP calls for independent investigation into allegations of harassment, firearms

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Saskatchewan’s Official Opposition is calling for an independent investigation into allegations made by Legislative Speaker Randy Weekes, alleging harassment and intimidation from government MLAs.

In a news conference Tuesday, NDP Ethics Critic Meara Conway announced she had sent a letter to Weekes asking him to convene the house services committee to investigate the allegations made on the last day of the legislative session.

In his allegations, Weekes’ claimed Government House Leader Jeremy Harrison brought a firearm into the legislative building and sought to carry a handgun as well.

After initially denying all of Weekes’ claims, Harrison said he recalled bringing a hunting rifle to the building once while on his way to a hunting trip.

As a result, Harrison resigned as Government House Leader.

The NDP says Weekes’ claims, and the government’s response to them, are serious enough to warrant an independent investigation with subpoena power.

“The speaker’s allegations are alarming and we know at least one person in the Premier’s inner circle, if not Moe himself, lied about them,” Conway said in the announcement.

“After 17 years, the Sask. Party has become entitled and thinks the rules don’t apply to them. Moe and his ministers can’t be trusted to hold themselves accountable.”

The opposition has said the house services committee has the authority to appoint an independent investigator and grant subpoena power.

With the powers, witnesses could be compelled to testify under oath and give evidence at official hearings.

“The presence of a firearm in the Legislative Assembly raises significant concerns for the safety and security of all members, staff, and visitors. The possibility that a high-ranking member of the government caucus risked their safety and the integrity of the functioning of the Legislative Assembly is completely inappropriate and extremely alarming,” Conway’s letter to Weekes read.

“While I recognize the sensitivity of the request for you and your office, the integrity of democratic institutions in our province comes first. The rule of law must be upheld and the basic principles of workplace safety and accountability must be respected.”

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Premier Scott Moe claimed it was not his place to call for an investigation.

“I can't make a recommendation for an investigation in that space — only the complainant can,” Moe said.

“I would urge the speaker if [he] feels that there's been [a] harassment incident and he makes that recommendation to go through that process and avail himself to the process that is available to me or any other elected official.”

The Premier’s office said in a statement that it supports an investigation through the legislature's anti-harassment policy, with formal complaints filed with the assembly clerk.

It said a third-party probe is a non-starter.

"We would support any investigation that may occur pursuant to the Members' Anti-Harassment Policy but would not support pursuing this matter through House Services Committee, as that is not the appropriate avenue," the statement read.

Last week, the NDP wrote to legislative security and the chief firearms officer asking what they knew about Harrison bringing a gun and wanting to carry one in the legislature.

Dani Herman, the director of legislative security, wrote in response that any allegations of an offence would need to be reported to Regina police.

A spokesperson for Regina police said he could not find any recent reports of complaints of guns at the legislature.

Blaine Beaven, legal counsel for the Saskatchewan Firearms Office, said in a letter that he couldn't say whether Harrison requested to carry a handgun, as the office can't release personal information.

Beaven said authorization to carry is only given in very limited circumstances.

Moe was repeatedly asked on Monday if he would offer an apology to Weekes – after he called him a “sore loser” when responding to his allegations.

“No, apologize for what?” he responded.

Weekes was one of two Sask. Party MLAs who lost their re-election bids in contested nominations.

Speaking with CTV News on May 16, Weekes commented on his loss, claiming that he was forced out.

“No doubt that the whole boundary change eliminated my constituency – split up in five different areas. There's decisions made at the top that determine these things,” he said.

“This all second hand of course. But one of my good supporters was told that the whole boundary changes were made to leave me out in the cold.”

While answering questions Monday, Moe responded to the claim, saying those decisions are made by Elections Saskatchewan, not by government.

“The fact of the matter is … those changes are made by a board that represents Elections Saskatchewan and all of those in the house,” Moe said.

“There's still services available for many of the complaints or issues that [Weekes] raised on the last day that he has not yet availed himself to.”

The spring session of Saskatchewan’s legislature wrapped up on May 16, the same day Weekes made his allegations.

A provincial election must be held on or before Oct. 28, 2024.

--With files from The Canadian Press.

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