Cabinet has ‘full confidence’ in Cockrill amid NDP call for resignation

Kayle Neis/Regina Leader-Post Opposition leader Carla Beck calls for the Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill to resign on Monday, April 22, 2024 in Regina.

“Cabinet and caucus retain the full confidence in the work that he’s doing, despite making a very poor choice with respect to the words that he used in a meeting.”

by Alec Salloum

Regina Leader-Post

Opposition Leader Carla Beck has called for the resignation of Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill from his cabinet position.

“Give him the boot,” Beck told media Monday afternoon shortly before question period.

“He lacks the empathy and the honesty needed to be the education minister. He’s hurting more than he’s helping.”

Over the weekend, the NDP received numerous communications from parents saying “they’ve simply lost trust in this minister,” education critic Matt Love said from Beck’s side.

The call comes after comments Cockrill made when he met with Regina mother Taya Thomas last week. Thomas, who lost her first-born child last year, said she asked the minister what it would take to reach a deal with the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. In apparent frustration over stalled talks at the time, she remembers Cockrill saying, “What do they want me to do? Give up my first-born child?”

Cockrill apologized publicly last week, but during Monday’s question period Beck called on Scott Moe to “fire” his education minister, saying the premier has “lost control of his team.”

Moe did not entertain the idea, saying both during and after question period that Cockrill will not be fired. The education minister did not indicate any willingness to resign.

“Cabinet and caucus retain the full confidence in the work that he’s doing, despite making a very poor choice with respect to the words that he used in a meeting,” said Moe after question period.

Beck argued Cockrill is “the worst minister we’ve seen yet,” while Moe jabbed back, noting the NDP has called for the resignation of every education minister since 2007.

Despite claims by Cockrill that he apologized to Thomas during their meeting, the mother told media last week that he did not.

“This was not the first time Moe’s minister was caught in a lie,” said an NDP news release, which also pointed to Cockrill’s past claims that the government had heard from “thousands of people across the province” in support of a pronoun consent policy, which has since become law.

“A few minutes later,” Minister of Health Everett Hindley stepped up to the mic and “admitted that he had not heard from a single person,” Love said Monday.

According to documents previously provided to the Leader-Post in a freedom of information request, 18 letters were sent between June 22 and July 28, in which the province was asked to consider a policy similar to that of New Brunswick’s recently unveiled Policy 713.

Another 75 emails or letters were received between Aug. 22-25, immediately following former education minister Dustin Duncan’s announcement of the policy, which is now law. Of those, 19 expressed thanks and support while 51 objected and voiced concern that the policy compromises the safety, health and autonomy of transgender youth.

Nova Scotia recently saw its minister of justice, Brad Johns, resign amid fallout from comments made about domestic violence.

Beck said it did not factor into her party’s call for Cockrill’s resignation, but did say “it certainly puts into sharp contrast the decisions made elsewhere.”