Government MLAs block NDP bid to probe alleged harassment of Saskatchewan Speaker

Government MLAs have stymied an effort by the Official Opposition to separate fact from fiction regarding allegations of harassment made by Speaker Randy Weekes.

The House services committee met for less than 30 minutes on Monday, with the government majority quickly scuttling the bid.

"I'm disappointed, but I'm not surprised," Saskatchewan NDP ethics critic Meara Conway said after the meeting. "We've seen this as a pattern of conduct from a government that doesn't think the rules apply to them."

Last month, Weekes alleged he had been harassed and intimidated by government members and staff. He also alleged that former government House leader. Jeremy Harrison. brought a firearm into the Saskatchewan Legislative building at some point in the past.

After initially denying all allegations, Harrison would later admit that he had brought a hunting rifle into the building. He then resigned as government House leader.

The NDP had attempted to call Premier Scott Moe, Jeremy Harrison, Lori Carr and others to answer questions about allegations made by the Speaker.

That was amended by government MLAs, who say there is a clear path for Weekes to take: File a complaint under the legislature's anti-harassment code of conduct.

Energy minister Jim Reiter speaks to media after Monday's meeting of the House services committee in Regina.
Energy Minister Jim Reiter said if Weekes wanted to, he could file a complaint under the legislature's anti-harassment code of conduct and the process leading to a potential investigation would begin immediately. (Matt Howard/CBC-Radio Canada )

"If the Speaker determines he wishes to, he could do that today and the process would start," said Energy Minister Jim Reiter.  "It goes to the intake officer, who's the law clerk. He makes a determination of whether or not an independent third party should do an investigation or not."

The policy does have limits. An allegation is supposed be filed within 90 days of the most recent incident.

Reiter told media that he he wasn't worried about time expiring, saying he believed the events referred to in the Speaker's latest complaints would fall within the 90-day limit. Reiter also pointed to a clause that extended the time limit due to extenuating circumstances.

There is also another clock ticking down on any potential investigation. The investigative process stops once the legislature is dissolved for an election. and an investigation ends completely if an individual is no longer an MLA.

Saskatchewan is heading for a provincial election later this year.

Speaker Randy Weekes prepares to chair a House services committee meeting on June 17, 2024.
Any complaint filed by Weekes, right, would be investigated in a confidential process. (Matt Howard/CBC-Radio Canada )

NDP MLAs also pointed out that an investigation into a harassment complaint is completely confidential. That means the public would not know whether a complaint has been made or whether it's being investigated.

Reiter maintained the complaint is the correct avenue to pursue an investigation.

Conway said the Opposition is looking at other options on how to purure their investigation, including whether they can take things up at another committee.

She admitted that would not remove the obstacle of a Saskatchewan Party majority  rejecting the NDP's motions.