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Saskatchewan cabinet minister says family helped jog memory of gun in legislature

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says cabinet minister Jeremy Harrison isn't a liar and couldn't initially remember bringing a long gun into the legislature a decade ago. Harrison speaks to the media at the Saskatchewan legislature in Regina, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu

REGINA — A Saskatchewan cabinet minister who initially told the premier he didn't bring a long gun into the legislature, only to reverse himself days later, says talks with family members helped jog his memory.

Jeremy Harrison says while recently talking about hunting in the Regina area, there was a "flash" in his mind of him walking past legislature security holding a cased gun.

"When that was clear, I phoned the premier and told him. And we had the discussion that I would no longer be the house leader," Harrison said in an interview Monday.

"It was only through some discussions with some family members and trying to piece together, you know, some dates from 10 years ago."

Harrison has been accused of lying to Premier Scott Moe over the matter, which came to light earlier this month when Speaker Randy Weekes accused Harrison of intimidating behaviour and said the minister once brought a gun into the legislature.

Moe publicly defended Harrison at the time and labelled the allegations as "unequivocally false."

Last week, Harrison admitted he took a gun into the building a decade ago. He said he was on his way to go hunting when he stopped at the legislature and didn't want to leave his gun unattended in his vehicle.

Harrison then stepped down as government house leader.

"I don't think anybody was lying," Harrison said Monday.

The Opposition NDP said the Saskatchewan Party minister shouldn't be believed.

"I simply don't think it's credible. There was a lie," NDP Leader Carla Beck told reporters.

"This is a question of leadership, and the premier has failed to meet the mark on this.

"If he has a cabinet minister who has lied to him, I don't think that's someone who he would want in cabinet. I think it sends a terrible message to the people of Saskatchewan."

Earlier Monday, Moe defended Harrison and said he believes the minister was being truthful.

"I was provided with information, and further reflection provided different information. And so that's being entirely truthful with the information that I had at that point in time," Moe said.

"That being said, I understand the severity of this and the perception of what has occurred here."

Harrison said he had likely been going bird hunting 10 years ago and stopped to pick up paperwork from his office

While he's not certain, he suspects he had a shotgun with him.

Harrison said security knew about the gun and there were no rules at the time about weapons in the building. Those rules have since been changed, and legislature members are not allowed to bring in weapons.

"I should not have come by the building that day," Harrison said. "This was a mistake. This was a very bad error in judgment."

He denied other allegations from the Speaker. Harrison said it's not true that he wanted to carry a handgun in the legislature.

Harrison also said he doesn't know anything about flashing his suit jacket at Weekes.

"I have not had it pointed out to me where that was the case," Harrison said.

Harrison did admit he did texted the Speaker with an expletive to show displeasure in a ruling. He said he should not have done so.

Harrison remains in cabinet handling trade and immigration issues.

Moe said it was his decision to keep Harrison in cabinet.

The premier said Weekes and other legislature members can request an investigation into claims of harassment.

Going forward, the premier said, he needs to ensure the Speaker and both house leaders are communicating more regularly.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2024.

Jeremy Simes, The Canadian Press


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