Harrison’s account of gun incident challenged in leaked 2016 email

Herald file photo. The Saskatchewan Legislature.

“There is no need for anyone to have a Gun in this building under these circumstances,” the email reads.

Alec Salloum

Regina Leader-Post

Security did not immediately recognize the man who was approaching the Saskatchewan Legislative Building while carrying a gun case and wearing camouflage.

It wasn’t until the man got closer that security realized it was Saskatchewan Party MLA Jeremy Harrison.

These new details about a 2016 incident were uncovered Wednesday through a partially redacted email provided to the Leader-Post by Speaker Randy Weekes, who was neither the original sender nor the recipient.

“(Name redacted) did not recognize the person and was at the point of keying his radio and announcing to the security staff on the radio that there was a GUN,” reads the email, which purportedly details an incident from around eight years ago.

It’s an account which differs from the minister’s version.

In response to the leaked document, the government sent an email on Wednesday afternoon which said: “The Minister did not say security had prior knowledge. He said they were aware that he entered the building with a properly cased gun, which is confirmed in the email.”

In a written statement on May 24, Harrison said he brought a gun into the building approximately 10 years ago “with the knowledge of security officials.”

The 2016 email, however, does not indicate that Harrison sought permission or cleared it with security.

While the name is censored, it shows the email was sent by the then-acting sergeant-at-arms and offers a different perspective of how Harrison brought a gun into the legislature.

“We should be advised in advance of this type of behavior, even by an MLA, so we can react properly and even given (sic) them some advice about their action,” the email reads.

It wasn’t until Harrison arrived at a kiosk near the entrance that a staffer said “sir,” prompting Harrison to look up, “at which time the person looked up and [name redacted] realized that it was Jeremy Harrison,” the email reads.

“Harrison walked past the kiosk carrying his gun case and disappeared around the corner. The gun itself was not visible, however, it was obvious that it was a gun case.”

According to the email, security did not confiscate the firearm but noted “we should have the option of taking the gun away from the Staff member” and keep it secured rather than “let him continue into the building with the Gun.”

“There is no need for anyone to have a Gun in this building under these circumstances,” the email continues. “In fairness to Mr. Harrison, he probably did not think the firearm would be safe in his pickup, which has its own legal issues, however, I (think) that this was handled poorly by Mr. Harrison.

“I am also aware that he is going Coyote hunting with the Speaker today. I have no problem approaching Mr. Harrison myself about this behavior, however, (I) think that this may be better handled at your level.”

Speaking Thursday, Weekes said he found the email in the archives at the Speakers’ office on Monday and cannot confirm if it’s detailing the same incident referred to by Harrison or a different one.

In his session-closing speech on May 16, Weekes alleged Harrison brought a gun to the legislature on one occasion and also sought permission to carry a hand gun in the legislative assembly.

Harrison has maintained that he only brought a firearm into the legislature one time.

Last week, the NDP Opposition called for an investigation into the allegations, which also included claims that Harrison sent hundreds of text messages to the Speaker, some of which he considered “harassing and intimidating.”

Then on Tuesday, the Opposition asked that Weekes convene the house services committee to appoint an independent investigator.

“There are a number of lies beyond the first lie, the first denial from this minister,” NDP Leader Carla Beck told media Wednesday in response to the leaked email.

“The sergeant-at-arms staff were scrambling as they saw an unidentified person in fatigues walking into the legislature with a gun. There was no prior knowledge.”

Beck renewed calls for Harrison to be “kicked out of cabinet” and caucus. She argued the email shows the sergeant-at-arms did not have any prior knowledge the firearm would be brought in and that it happened on a weekday.

The leaked email is dated Thursday, April 28, 2016.

In his original statement, Harrison said he “was going hunting on a weekend,” when he made a pitstop at the legislature.

“Further, he acknowledged that he did not remember the exact timing of this event, only that he believed it to be about a decade ago and thought it was on a weekend,” read an emailed statement from the government.

Added Beck: “If (the premier) doesn’t kick Jeremy Harrison out of cabinet and out of caucus, I think that says a lot about Scott Moe’s leadership and it doesn’t say anything good.”

Harrison stepped down as government house leader last week and apologized for his actions. He remains a member of cabinet, including his role as minister of trade and export development.

— with files from Larissa Kurz