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Speaker Weekes clamping down on an unruly Legislature

Accusations of lying, and other insults from MLAs have already started during the first days back from the week-long Easter break.
Randy Weekes, MLA for Biggar-Sask Valley, seen at the Starlight House grand opening Oct. 19.

REGINA - The Saskatchewan legislature is back for their final six weeks of its current term, and Speaker Randy Weekes is having to crack the whip on the MLAs.

Accusations of lying, and other insults from MLAs have already started during the first days back from the week-long Easter break, with Speaker Weekes ending up coming down particularly hard on Minister of Trade and Export Development Jeremy Harrison.

Harrison got in trouble over remarks during a contentious exchange with Opposition Critic Aleana Young over jobs numbers, with Young roasting the government over job losses.

In response Harrison quoted a report from Deloitte on Saskatchewan’s positive economic outlook and prefaced his remarks by saying “here’s what Deloitte had to say — and Deloitte doesn’t lie, Mr. Speaker — had to say in their April 2024 economic outlook.”

That drew this reaction from Speaker Weekes:  “I would ask the Minister of Trade and Export Development . . . for the use of the word ‘lie.’ You know very well you can’t do indirectly what you’re not allowed to do directly. Please stand up and withdraw and apologize.”

Harrison then stood seemingly hunched over to say “withdraw and apologize,” prompting an angry Speaker Weekes to say: 

“Stand up, please. Don’t slouch. Disrespect of the institution. Stand up.”

That show of discipline from Speaker Weekes drew particularly raised eyebrows from the MLAs on the government side of the Assembly. Harrison then fully stood up and withdrew and apologized. 

Harrison wasn’t the only MLA to get in trouble with the Speaker that afternoon. Opposition Leader Carla Beck also got in hot water for her remarks as she roasted Premier Scott Moe on the affordability issue. 

“Now despite what the Premier would have people believe, it’s this tired and out-of-touch government’s decisions that have hiked power bills and have tripled, tripled the take on the PST [provincial sales tax],” Beck said. “Now will the Premier quit with the spin and with the memes and actually deliver cost-of-living relief for the people in this province?”

That drew a point of order from Deputy Government House Leader Lori Carr. “Mr. Speaker, she was referring directly to the Premier. Mr. Speaker, this is a clear insinuation that she is saying the Premier is lying. I would ask that she apologize," she said.

The next day, after reviewing the record, Speaker Weekes made his ruling and found Beck did make the remark, and asked Beck to withdraw and apologize. She did so. 

Weekes made these further remarks Tuesday in making his ruling:

“I will remind members that only three sittings ago, on Wednesday, March 27th, 2024, I asked a member to withdraw and apologize for a similar comment. Disputes over fact are an integral part of debate but when comments in debate insinuate that other hon. members have been dishonest, they are out of order.

“Yesterday’s Question Period included insults and insinuations of dishonesty by a number of members. I caution members on both sides to be mindful of the words they use in reference to each other and to respect this institution and all members in this Chamber.”