Harrison resigns as Government House Leader

Pictured is Minister Jeremy Harrison. (Screenshot)

Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison resigned as Government House Leader on Friday after admitting to bringing a long gun into the legislature roughly 10 years ago.

In an interview Friday morning, Harrison “categorically and unequivocally” denied all other accusations made by outgoing Speaker Randy Weeks during the final day of the Spring Assembly. However, Harrison said he brought a long gun into the Legislature for “about 10 minutes” while stopping to pick up some work before heading out on a hunting trip about a decade ago, something he regrets.

“(I) shouldn’t have done that,” Harrison said in an interview on Friday. “It was a mistake. It was a lapse in judgement, and because of that I offered my resignation as House Leader to the Premier and he accepted.”

Harrison said he didn’t initially catch that Weekes had accused him of bringing a gun to the legislature because there were so many accusations on that final day. When he did realize it, Harrison said he didn’t recall bringing a gun until he had some conversations with family members.

Following those conversations, Harrison said he recalled bringing a gun into the legislature, but couldn’t remember the exact date saying it was “10 years ago, approximately.”

Harrison said he didn’t remember the event until after Premier Scott Moe had made public statements about Weekes’ allegations. Harrison then offered his resignation as house leader, which Moe accepted.

“It was a mistake,” Harrison said. “It was a lapse in judgement. I shouldn’t have done it. I didn’t even think about it when it happened.

“It was literally driving out to a hunting trip and stopped for a very short period of time. Security were aware of it. I brought my long gun into the assembly, and I did it because I didn’t want to leave it in a parked vehicle in a parking lot, which is not something that you should do. I should have just not stopped at the building, but I did and I made the decision at that point that I would bring it in because it was a short period of time and security were aware.”

Harrison added that this was the only time he brought a gun to the Legislature.

Saskatchewan NDP leader Carla Beck said it’s not enough for Harrison to resign his role as House Leader. In an interview Friday afternoon, Beck said Moe condemned Weekes’ accusations as “unequivocally false” only for Harrison to admit they were true a week later.

Beck said Saskatchewan voters need to know they can trust their elected officials, and there need to be consequences when that trust is violated.

“Saskatchewan people expect that their leaders will live up to the values that we hold,” Beck said during a press conference outside the Legislature. “Honesty is important, and people expect that their leaders will be honest. After 17 years of the government that has occupied office in that building behind me, it is clear that this office has not been that, and they’re still not being straight with the people of Saskatchewan.”

Beck said it was concerning that Harrison took one week before providing an answer. She said both Harrison and Moe need to face reporters and answer questions about the issue.

“The consequence that I’m asking for today, again, if this was a case of the minister lying to the Premier, is for that Minister to be kicked out to caucus,” Beck said. “It’s not enough that he just steps down as House Leader.”

Harrison denied all other allegations Weekes made during his closing speech, telling reporters they are “entirely untrue.” He also denied ever having asked permission to bring a handgun into the legislature.

Harrison said he was surprised and disappointed by Weekes’ final comments.

“Obviously as house leader I’ve worked with that speaker, (and) I’ve worked with previous speakers. There’s always a tension and a friction,” Harrison said. “That’s the way the House works. Obviously, what happened was unfortunate, and I was a bit mystified, frankly, by some of … the allegations that were made from the chair.

“Like I said, I categorically deny all of them, except for this one, which having worked through and thought about, I acknowledge happened and it was as mistake, and because of that I’ve offered my resignation as house leader.”

In his final speech as speaker, Weekes accused Harrison of sending “hundreds of text messages” seeking to influence his rulings. Weekes said the “intimidating and harassing” messages began immediately after he took the position.

On Friday, May 17, the Premier told reporters he had spoken with Harrison about all allegations, and that the Meadow Lake MLA denied every one. Moe also told reporters he had confidence in Harrison’s both as a minister and House Leader.