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NDP votes no to second reading of Sask. Marshals Service bill

NDP Critic Nicole Sarauer said there was opposition to Police Amendment Act from police services, but government majority voted in favour.
Opposition House Leader Nicole Sarauer speaks to reporters following the vote on the Police Amendment Act Monday.

REGINA - The government’s legislation that would create a new Saskatchewan Marshals’ Service is not getting any support from the NDP — not even on second reading.

The Official Opposition voted against second reading after the Sask Party government called a standing vote on Bill 106 - The Police Amendment Act on Monday. 

The NDP cast 11 “nay” votes. The Sask Party majority cast 45 “yea” votes to carry the motion, with the bill now going to the Standing Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Justice before it returns to the Assembly for third reading.

The stance by the NDP to oppose the police legislation Monday stood in contrast to the fall sitting, when NDP MLAs either voted in favor or otherwise did not oppose second reading for the controversial Saskatchewan First Act. That is the legislation brought forward by the province asserting Saskatchewan’s exclusive legislative jurisdiction over natural resources.

The Sask First Act second reading passed 43-0 on a standing vote, with six NDP votes in favor. At that time, the NDP justified the move by insisting to reporters it was common to vote to allow bills to move on from second reading to the committee stage. 

After Monday’s standing vote on the police bill, the NDP had to explain themselves to reporters again for this time turning around and casting a no vote on second reading. 

In the scrum, Opposition House Leader Nicole Sarauer called out Government House Leader Jeremy Harrison for shenanigans for holding a standing vote to begin with.

“This is the same dance he did with the Sask First (Act) to try and turn that into a story,” said Sarauer.

“It’s very rare that government calls standing votes. They’re doing it now as an attempt to change the channel from their record on healthcare, which is what we’ve been talking about today.” 

She was referring to the NDP’s grilling of the government over private MRIs during Question Period Monday.

When asked if the government was trying to put a “wedge” on the police issue, by calling a standing vote and then claiming later on that the NDP was opposing rural policing, Sarauer responded the NDP had been clear on the issue.

“We hear the concerns from rural communities about the desire for more policing in their communities,” said Sarauer. She said what they had heard from the RCMP in particular was that they had put forward a concrete plan to the province to get more police into communities immediately.

“The Marshals service that may exist in five years is not going to provide that service.”

As for their vote against the police amendment bill, Sarauer spoke of why they opposed it.

“We have been reaching out to policing leaders across the province, and been hearing a ton of concerns about the legislation — in particular, the government’s desire to take more control over police and remove more independence of policing services in Saskatchewan,” said Sarauer.

“In particular, concern heard about the Marshals service that has been announced. Really nothing more than a half-baked plan from this ministry.”

She said the $20 million dollars towards this service “could be used immediately to put officers on the street in Saskatchewan now.”

It’s not yet known on what date the police amendment legislation will be scheduled at committee. It is known the Sask. First Act is scheduled to be discussed at committee this Wednesday.

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