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Sask. Party blocks full investigation into speaker allegations, opposition criticizes move

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A full investigation into allegations made by legislative Speaker Randy Weekes against Sask. Party MLAs, including former Government House Leader Jeremy Harrison, has been blocked – much to the opposition's disappointment.

“Today the Sask. Party government had the opportunity to show that they take matters of harassment, safety and security seriously, and that they believe in accountability and that the rules apply to all,” Sask NDP Deputy Leader Vicki Mowat told reporters Monday.

“Instead, we saw Premier Moe's MLAs run interference for Jeremy Harrison.”

According to the Saskatchewan NDP, the Sask. Party used its majority in the committee to rewrite one motion and vote down two others.

The first motion would’ve called for Premier Scott Moe, House Leader Lori Carr, and Advisor to the Premier Reg Downs to testify before the committee in its original form. The government rewrote it so that no one would be called to testify.

The second motion would have seen the committee appoint an independent investigator to investigate Weekes’ allegations, while the third motion called for an independent investigator to look into an incident that saw Harrison bring a long gun to the Legislative Building.

The government instead voted in favour of an investigation through the legislature’s anti-harassment policy.

“The harassment process is a confidential process. And so I don't think [the government] wants the findings of that to see the light of day. They want to move on from this. They don't want transparency around this,” Ethics and Democracy Critic Meara Conway told reporters.

“They've now blocked the investigation, knowing full well that that harassment policy will not look into all of the issues raised on May 16.”

NDP MLAs Meara Conway (Left) and Vicki Mowat speaking to media on June 17, 2024. (Wayne Mantyka/CTV News)

On May 16, during the final moments of the legislature’s spring session, Weekes took the time to share a long list of allegations against several members of the governing Sask. Party.

In his statements, he claimed he faced intense bullying and intimidation while serving as speaker and alleged troubling behaviour from Government House Leader Jeremy Harrison.

The alleged behaviour involved a flurry of texts spanning months, criticizing Weekes’ handling of discussion in the chamber as well as physical intimidation.

Additionally, Weekes alleged that Harrison sought to carry a handgun in the legislature and referenced an incident which saw Harrison bring a long gun into the legislative building.

Harrison denied all the allegations – but recanted on the long gun charge days later, claiming he was reminded of the incident after speaking with family members.

The incident, which took place in 2016, saw Harrison bring a cased long gun into the building briefly while he was fully clothed in camouflage hunting gear.

Harrison’s appearance at the building nearly led to a security incident before guards recognized him – according to an email from the Sergeant-At-Arms at the time.

'Very convenient'

Minister Jim Reiter spoke to reporters following the committee meeting – and suggested Weekes utilize the legislature’s MLA anti-harassment policy.

“It’s a comprehensive policy. Clearly if the Speaker determines or wishes to – He could do that today and the process would start,” Reiter explained. “It goes to an intake officer who is a law clerk. He makes a determination on whether or not an independent third party should do an investigation or not.”

Weekes disagrees with the process – arguing that his allegations are in the public interest and the process is entirely confidential.

“The whole process around the harassment issue and that type of investigation, it's all confidential, even if and when I make a harassment claim. It's confidential. No one will know that it took place and no one will know about the results,” he told CTV News.

“I think there should be an independent investigation done. And yes, the results should be made public.”

Additionally, the anti-harassment policy process will not cover Harrison bringing a long gun into the legislature – an incident that Reiter says is best left to police.

“We’ve been clear in our position on that one as well. If there’s concerns about that, that’s up to law enforcement to look at. Law enforcement had an opportunity to do that at the time, security deemed it not necessary to follow up is my understanding,” he explained.

“Even today if law enforcement wanted to look at look at that they certainly could. We don’t think it’s the position of politicians to be directing law enforcement.”

Speaking to CTV News, Weekes commented on the recent changes to legislative security and how it’s compromised any attempt to independently handle the current situation.

“The speaker's authority over security was taken away by Bill 70, which was introduced by guess who, Jeremy Harrison,” he said. “The current building security regime is run by the Legislative District Security Unit or LDSU which is responsible to the Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety, Minister Paul Merriman, who is now the Deputy Government House Leader.”

“He’s been responding to the opposition's requests for an appointment of an independent investigator,” he added.

“Very convenient.”

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning – Moe reiterated the government’s position on both Harrison’s gun incident and the allegations of harassment made by the speaker.

“With respect to the incident eight years ago, the Speaker of Sergeant-At-Arms were aware of at that point in time, I would suspect if they felt that there should be some type of investigation at that point in time,” he said.

“There's a process in place specifically for what he claims to have occurred and I encourage him to avail himself to that process that all of the members voted on including himself to have in place to protect members for allegations just like this.”

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