REGINA - It looks as if there is no possible way back politically for Cut Knife-Turtleford MLA Ryan Domotor after being charged with soliciting sexual services.
“Done” was the response from Premier Scott Moe when asked that question Monday at the Canadian Western Agribition, after Domotor had been one of 16 people charged in a police sting operation in Regina last week. Domotor is to be in court to face the charge in January.
Moe had issued a statement Friday afternoon saying there was no place for Domotor in the Legislature and booting him out of the Sask Party caucus. On Monday, he used even stronger language, as he described Domotor’s actions as “disgusting and vile."
Moe said the statement he issued on the matter on Friday “speaks for itself. This government needs to be supporting women who are in a vulnerable state, not exploiting them, and that was the most important piece of the statement I put out. This is not acceptable in anyway, by myself or this government, and most certainly terrible.”
Moe said it was a “very serious situation and it’s a situation where I think the actions are exactly the opposite of what any government member should be doing.”
Moe pointed to the government moving ahead with legislation including funding second stage shelters, and upcoming amendments of the Human Trafficking Act — amendments that Moe said had been previously announced in the Speech from the Throne.
“This is a government that needs to be doing all that we can towards stopping this type of behavior, supporting women that are in a vulnerable position, not exploiting them. So it’s most disappointing… there really isn’t a place in the Assembly for an individual performing these types of actions.”
When asked if it was the government’s position that sex workers were being exploited, Moe responded:
“Largely yes — the way to stop that from happening is for men to make a different decision, and for men to not make the decision to exploit women that are quite often in a very very vulnerable position. So we are bringing in laws and supports for those women, laws that ultimately stop these types of decisions, but at the end of the day I would say that all men have the power to make a better decision.”
As for Domotor, not only has he been removed from caucus and stripped of his responsibilities, but Moe also confirmed Domotor will be stripped of his Sask Party nomination. The party will find a new candidate in Cut Knife - Turtleford.
There have been cases where other politicians have been able to come back from criminal charges. One was Don McMorris, MLA for Indian Head-Milestone, who was charged and pled guilty to impaired driving and was stripped of his duties for a time before eventually being allowed to return to cabinet.
But the indication from Moe is he feels this is a different situation. “I don’t compare the two.”
Moe also confirmed he acted swiftly, with the government being informed Friday by law enforcement that an MLA was charged. The Premier then said they confirmed that individual, and then put a news release out immediately.
“We acted quickly, within an hour of two of being informed of the situation, and harshly — rightfully so.”
Opposition Leader Carla Beck spoke of Domotor’s expulsion Monday and about the proposed human trafficking legislation from the government. Beck told reporters that statements by the government purporting to express concern about human trafficking “ring hollow” in the wake of the actions by Domotor.
“We’ll wait and see what the bill says, but again that legislation rings hollow when we see a sitting member from a seat in government being charged with such an offence. We’ll wait and see what the details are, but being caught up, being arrested as part of a sting operation around human trafficking is deeply concerning.”
Issue raised in the Legislature
During Question Period Monday, Beck questioned Premier Moe regarding Domotor's criminal charge, as recorded in Hansard.
Ms. Beck: — "Mr. Speaker, not all good news. Friday we learned that the Sask Party member for Cut Knife-Turtleford was arrested and charged as part of a human trafficking investigation by Regina city police. Of course, this is completely inappropriate conduct for anyone, let alone a sitting member of this Assembly. And this just after a year ago Lyle Stewart invited Colin Thatcher, a convicted wife murderer, to attend the Throne Speech.
"What does the Premier have to say to Saskatchewan people who see a troubling pattern from the Sask Party MLAs [Member of the Legislative Assembly] while Saskatchewan maintains some of the worst rates of violence against women in the entire country?"
Hon. Mr. Moe: — "Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. And I as well learned on Friday of an incident involving a Member of the Legislative Assembly. The government was contacted by law enforcement indicating that there was a member that was charged, Mr. Speaker. I put out a statement subsequent to that by indicating that this individual will no longer would be serving in the government caucus, Mr. Speaker, due to what can only be described as vile and disgusting behaviour, decisions that most certainly should not be made, Mr. Speaker.
"The consequences from the government perspective were swift. They were harsh, Mr. Speaker. And I think we can agree that all members in this Assembly need to be working together to support those women in particular that are in vulnerable situations, Mr. Speaker, and should not be looking to exploit their situation."
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