Prince Albert MLA defends legislature work environment

Herald file photo. The Saskatchewan Legislature.

Prince Albert Northcote MLA Alana Ross said the provincial legislature has a great work environment on Friday.

Ross made the comments after being asked if she was worried about how MLAs treated each other following allegations from the outgoing Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Randy Weekes.

In his final speech as Speaker on Thursday, Weekes accused government house leader Jeremy Harrison of texting “intimidating and harassing messages” when rulings didn’t go the government’s way. Weekes also said there were three occasions where he was almost physically assaulted—twice when government staffers lunged at him, and once when an MLA nearly head-butted him.

Weekes is the long-time Saskatchewan Party MLA for Bigger-Sask Valley, but will not run in the next election after losing a nomination battle.

When asked on Friday if she was worried about how MLAs treated each other in the legislature, Ross said her own experience was a good one.

“I’ve never worked in a better work environment,” she said. “I’ve been treated so well here and I’ve been treated with respect from all of my colleagues.”

Weekes allegations caused a firestorm on Thursday, but Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe isn’t convinced they’re true.

On Friday, Moe told reporters he spoke with Harrison about Weekes’ comments, which Harrison denied. Moe said he has confidence in Harrison, and concerns about Weekes.

“I’ve been informed that they (the allegations) are all unequivocally false,” Moe told reporters.

When asked what she thought about Weekes’ comments, Ross said she agreed with Moe’s response.

“The premier was very clear in his statement, and I really don’t have anything further to comment on it,” Ross told the Daily Herald.

Thursday’s session marked the second time Weekes has raised concerns about the government’s conduct. On Wednesday, he read a letter from former Sergeant-at-Arms Terry Quinn into the record. In it, Quinn wrote that he felt harassed by statements made by Minister Christine Tell.

Provincial NDP Leader Carla Beck said it’s been “a very concerning two days” at the legislature, which show the Saskatchewan Party has a strong sense of entitlement after 17 years in power.

“Showing that this is a government that doesn’t think that the rules apply to them was deeply concerning, but also in keeping with some of the things that we’ve been hearing out there,” Beck said during an interview on Friday. “After 17 years, it seems that this government has no interest in listening, and increasingly appears to think that the rules don’t apply to them.”

Beck said the assembly has rules and protocols in place that govern how each party behaves in the legislature, and allegations that an MLA is breaking those rules are “a huge concern” since it good break confidence in provincial politicians.

“These rules apply to all members,” she said. “We have opportunity at the Board of Internal Economy, which both sides sit on, to discuss these rules, but once these rules are made, the rules apply to all of us.”

–with files from Alec Salloum/Regina Leader-Post