Scott Moe doesn't rule out appeal after teepee court case loss
Published Thursday, October 1, 2020 3:58PM CST
The Walking with our Angels tipi was erected on the Saskatchewan legislature grounds. The protest ended Sept. 13, 2020. (CTV Regina)
REGINA -- Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe says an appeal could be coming in a court case the province lost against a young Metis man staging a ceremony on the front lawn of the legislature.
Weeks before the campaign began for the Oct. 26 vote, Moe's government argued for a court order to remove Tristen Durocher's teepee from Wascana Park.
Lawyers said the 24-year-old lacked a permit and was in violation of park bylaws that prohibit overnight camping.
Durocher's lawyer argued his ceremonial hunger fast to honour the high number of Indigenous people who have killed themselves in northern Saskatchewan was protected under Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Graeme Mitchell ruled Durocher could stay to complete the fast. The justice wrote that the bylaws weren't flexible enough to accommodate Durocher's "constitutionally protected political and spiritual expression."
Mitchell directed the provincial commission in charge of the park to write new rules.
"The ruling that I'd read was to relook at some of the bylaws in the province to ensure that they are accommodating for all in the province," Moe said at a campaign stop Thursday in Regina, where he promised a 10 per cent rebate to SaskPower customers if his party is re-elected.
"That's a fair comment to make and that's something that, if we form government again, I don't think we would shy away from looking at the bylaws throughout the park."
He said it's up to the commission whether to challenge the court decision, but suggested an appeal would be possible because of a 2018 court ruling that ordered a similar teepee protest camp out of the park.
"We now actually have duelling opinions."
Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili said he doesn't believe the province should appeal the case. He said he accepts the court ruling and the need to rewrite some rules.
"It was not in the exact letter of the bylaws, but the spirit of the entire event was really valuable," he said in a phone interview from Saskatoon, where he announced a $125-million promise to make class sizes smaller.
He suggested a need for perspective.
"Put the fact that we're leading the country in the number of people who die by suicide beside some park bylaws. We have to think about priorities here."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2020.