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Accusations from Speaker Weekes mark final day at the Leg

Daily Leg Update: Weekes accuses government leaders of harassment and intimidation, but Premier Scott Moe says this is first he’s heard of it.

REGINA — The final sitting day of the Saskatchewan legislature for the 2020-24 term was punctuated by accusations from Speaker Randy Weekes against the Saskatchewan Party's House leadership on Thursday.

Weekes raised accusations of harassment and intimidation against government leaders, including Government House Leader Jeremy Harrison and Deputy Government House Leader Lori Carr, during his speech at the end of the sitting day.

In his remarks, one in which he thanked his staff and constituents, Weekes said he performed his duties “despite the behaviour of the government leadership, which I now take this opportunity to explain the challenges that I’ve had as Speaker.”

Among them:

Weekes pointed to inappropriate behaviour towards the former Speaker, with Weekes noting Government House Leader Jeremy Harrison had “bragged he could get the Speaker to rule on way that he wanted.” He said there “was plenty of evidence that did take place,” with texting of the Speaker on how he should rule. That speaker, Weekes said, later resigned to run federally — a reference to current Saskatoon-University MP Corey Tochor.

The following Speaker, Mark Docherty, “would not bow to the intimidation of the Government House Leader. Mark said he just shut off his cellphone. Well, I worked with Mark on the Board of Internal Economy, and the Government House Leader was talking about having the Speaker Docherty removed.”

Weekes said harassing text messages began immediately to influence his rulings. He said his experience with the Government House Leader includes “threatening gestures.” “Whenever I ruled against him during session, he would start yelling at me and stand up and flash his suit jacket, and storm out.”

One example Weekes cited was a text from March 22, 2023 in which Harrison texted to the Speaker “that’s an absolute bull—t ruling, completely wrong and Iris will tell you that” — Iris referring to the clerk.

Weekes noted it got back to him that his removal as Speaker was often discussed in the government caucus. 

Weekes also accused Deputy Government House Leader Lori Carr of harassing him during the debate over the parental rights motion, and read into the record several of her texts. Weekes said he then got up and handed off to the deputy speaker, and as he headed out the door he walked by the government lounge. “As I went by the government lounge, Reg Downs, the special advisor to the premier, came out of the lounge and lunged at me, nearly hitting me, and stamped his feet very aggressively. It was obvious there was communication between the government, deputy house leader, the government staffer and Reg Downs who was waiting inside the government caucus lounge. This is not the first time I was threatened like this. Another MLA rushed me at a party function and came very close to head-butting me.”

Weekes then turned his attention back to Harrison, accusing him of having “showed signs of inappropriate behaviour from the time he was first elected. Misleading statements and out-and-out lies has been called out numerous times. He expects his staff to go out to his home and pick up his clothes. Has trouble keeping staff — there is a revolving door of staff coming and going.”

“But more disturbing,” said Weekes, is “his obsession with guns and his use of intimidation, both verbally and physically.

“His desire to get permission to carry a handgun in the Legislative Assembly is particularly disturbing. Another incident reported by a former special constable was when the Government House Leader flaunted rules concerning guns, concerning weapons when he brought a hunting rifle into the legislative building. He owns many weapons, including a .223 AR-style four-shot clip lightweight, which looks like an assault weapon, and which can easily be converted to more than four shots. As I stated before, my experience with the Government House Leader includes threatening gestures whenever I rule against him in the assembly. He will start yelling at me and standing up and flashing his suit jacket. As the gestures and behaviour became more aggressive, I worried he might be carrying a handgun. My concerns over his mental stability and his obsession with guns was only confirmed when he heckled after passing of the motion to devolve all relevant parts of the Firearms Act in the province. He twice yelled ‘open carry, open carry next.’”

The statement by Weekes seemed to stun the legislature and end the sitting on a sour note. But it was just the latest in a series of statements by Weekes in previous days. 

Just the day before, Weekes had read into the record statements from a couple of years earlier from former Sergeant at Arms Terry Quinn and his spouse Edith Cormier, both accusing Minister Christine Tell of, in Weekes’ words, “character assassination.” The statements related to the security changes in the sssembly following passage of Bill 70.

Weekes also posted on the “X” platform a picture of his Saskatchewan Party membership card having been torn into two pieces. Above the photo was the caption “enough is enough.”

Premier Scott Moe met reporters following Question Period and chalked up Weekes’ statements as coming from a man who was bitter over losing his nomination fight. 

“He’s unfortunately a sore loser,” said Moe of Weekes, who lost the Saskatchewan Party nomination race in Kindersley-Biggar to Kim Gartner last Dec. 14.

“It really is sour grapes. Most of this occurred, allegedly occurred, prior to Dec. 14 of which the Speaker was still running in the nomination for this party. So, I’ve never talked to him about these items of concern to him.”

Regarding the accusations, Moe said he was as shocked as anyone as to what the Speaker said.

“The Speaker’s never said anything to me about any of this … I don’t know where it’s coming from.”

Regarding the accusations from Weekes about Harrison’s mental health, Moe once again said it was “the first time I’ve heard any of this.”

As for Weekes’ claims the Sask Party wanted him out as Speaker, Moe said “we have a majority in there. If we wanted to remove the Speaker, he would’ve been removed as the Speaker. He has a job to do on behalf of the people of the province, whether he’s part of our party or not. He was brought there by majority vote of members on the floor, a majority of which are in our party. I think there were maybe some questions about what occurred today and yesterday. But listen, session is finished, we’re heading back to our communities and really looking forward to the campaign that will begin this fall.” 

Opposition Leader Carla Beck called Weekes’ statements in the assembly “very disturbing allegations.”

“Saskatchewan people deserve better than this. This kind of action and weak leadership by the Premier cause people to have concerns about the decisions being made in this Assembly. I hope that the Premier is going to look into these very serious allegations. I think the people of the province deserve answers, and I know we certainly want to see answers to the very disturbing allegations that were brought forward today.”