‘It is the truth’: Harrison says he forgot he brought a gun to legislature, during talk with premier

Pictured is Minister Jeremy Harrison. (Screenshot)

In an interview with the Leader-Post, Harrison admitted bringing the gun was a ‘very bad error in judgment.’ I should not have brought a long gun to the legislature,” he added.

Alec Salloum

Regina Leader-Post

Jeremy Harrison started with an apology “to the people of Saskatchewan” and those working in the legislative building for his decision to bring a long gun into the government’s house.

“This was a very bad mistake,” Harrison told the Leader-Post late Monday afternoon. “It was a very bad error in judgment. I should not have brought a long gun to the legislature.”

Harrison resigned last week as government house leader — but remains as minister of trade, export and development — after a series of allegations by Speaker Randy Weekes in an explosive end-of-session address on May 16.

Harrison explained Monday that he brought a long gun to the legislature about a decade ago and forgot that he had done so. Premier Scott Moe initially defended the minister, saying Harrison had informed him that the allegations were “unequivocally false.”

Asked bluntly if he lied to the premier, Harrison stated “no I did not.”

The former government house leader said he realized “Thursday of last week” that he did in fact bring a gun into the building. Harrison also recalled notifying security at the time and that it was just a brief stop before he departed on a hunting trip.

“It is the truth …,” he said Monday. “I did not remember this and it was through conversation with my wife and my dad that I did remember.”

Opposition Leader Carla Beck refuses to buy the explanation, saying it doesn’t pass the “sniff test.”

“No one believes that the minister suddenly remembered after talking to one or two family members,” said Beck, who questioned Moe’s decision to keep Harrison as a minister. “If he has a cabinet minister who’s lied to him, that’s not someone who he should want to be in cabinet. I think it sends a terrible message to the people of Saskatchewan.”

When it comes to past precedent for removing someone from a position, Beck said MLA Nadine Wilson misrepresenting her COVID vaccine status during the pandemic is a fair parallel.

“The fundamental issue that is the same here is dishonesty,” said the NDP leader.

Pressed for further details on the gun incident, Harrison said it’s hard to be more specific in his recollection. Harrison did remember that he “walked by the security kiosk” but couldn’t say which security officials had been informed about the rifle.

Asked if it was the sergeant-at-arms, Harrison said “I don’t know.”

As for his limited recollection of when the incident occurred, Harrison said the last time he went hunting from Regina was approximately 10 years ago. He recalled that the gun was in a case and the only reason he would have stopped at the legislature was to grab something out of his office.

Harrison said he didn’t want to leave the gun unattended in the parking lot.

The Firearms Act specifies that an individual may transport a non-restricted firearm in an unattended vehicle “when the vehicle is equipped with a trunk or similar compartment that can be securely locked.” In the absence of such a compartment, it is permissible to store the firearm if it is “not visible from outside the vehicle and the vehicle, or the part that contains the non-restricted firearm, is securely locked.”

Harrison emphasized that he learned about gun safety from his father, who was a conservation officer. One of the lessons he learned was “that you do not leave an unattended firearm in the back of your truck,” he said, noting that guns left in vehicles “get stolen and then they turn into illegal firearms.”

“My mistake was coming by the assembly,” Harrison said, while also noting it’s “quite common amongst those who hunt” to bring your firearm in from the vehicle if you make a pit stop at a friend’s house.

“I wouldn’t want someone bringing a firearm into my home,” countered Reg Glennie, a Saskatchewan firearms instructor with 50 years of experience, in an interview Tuesday.

“Suppose you’re traveling to another part of the province to hunt and you have to stop and get gas or you stop at a restaurant, you’re going to leave that firearm in a vehicle unattended,” he said, adding there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the law is followed.

As part of his allegations on the final day of session, Weekes also claimed that Harrison once sought permission to carry a handgun at the legislative assembly. Harrison denied that claim on Monday but did note that he has a Restricted Possession and Acquisition Licence (RPAL). Harrison said the aforementioned long-gun incident is the only time he has brought a firearm into the legislature.

Weekes also alleged that Harrison sent him “hundreds of text messages” during his four years as Speaker, including some that he considered “intimidating and harassing.”

Harrison took issue with that characterization.

“There are regularly some challenging conversations that happen between house leaders or deputy leaders and the Speaker,” he said. “There are difficult conversations and frankly there are blunt conversations.”

The premier suggested Monday that this current predicament could have all been avoided with better communication among the legislative leaders — himself included. He referred to “lapses in communication” as an ongoing issue that he needs to correct.

As for Moe’s stance on culpability, Harrison said: “the premier felt it appropriate I no longer be house leader and I obviously fully support that.”