Sask. Party candidate Alex Nau said he regrets hosting a spin-the-wheel game in which participants had to show their breasts or have beer shot down their throat. But Jill Arnott said there is a lack of meaningful action behind his apology.
"When you are setting yourself up as a leader, then you need to lead. You need to be accountable, your example needs to be better," Arnott, who is the executive director of the University of Regina's Women's Centre, said.
The Regina Rosemount candidate's were thrust back into the public spotlight after references to a 2016 Regina Leader-Post article emerged online. It was about the Craven music festival — now known as the Country Thunder.
According to the article, Nau was at the helm of a "game" where people could spin a wheel. According to the newspaper, people who spun the wheel would then have to expose their breasts, shotgun a beer or have beer shoved down their throat via a water gun — depending on where the dial stopped.
"I understand how suggesting this action is disrespectful to women and regret my participation… it was wrong. I would not do this again," Nau said in a written statement.
Sask. Party Leader Scott Moe called what Nau did disrespectful and juvenile at a campaign event Monday, also repeating that it happened "a number of years ago."
When asked what demonstrable actions Nau has taken to show he has changed, Moe said "this candidate has not taken actions that you were alluding to. I have talked to him, a number of members of the party have talked to him," Moe said, adding Nau's actions are not condoned by the Sask. Party, nor should they be supported.
"But we should also provide people with the opportunity, when they say that these actions are juvenile, when they say they are not going to occur again, we should provide them with the opportunity to say that and to believe that they have changed, and they have matured."
"I am not interested in a conversation where there's no path forward. I don't think that throwing people away and writing them off is helpful," she said. But Arnott said in order to move forward, people need to demonstrate tangible action.
"When all you are doing is saying 'I get it, let's move on'… that's not enough and certainly that doesn't suggest to anybody that there's anything genuine happening in terms of progress."
'Mistakes at a younger age'
A Sask. Party statement on the matter noted Nau would continue to run as a party candidate, adding "many have made mistakes at a younger age."
When Arnott read the messaging she thought "here we go again."
"That's not an excuse. Not everyone who is young engages in that kind of behaviour. A lot of young people know the difference between what's right, what's wrong," she said. "There doesn't seem to be a very genuine interest in investigating what accountability might look like, and how they could be better in terms of the response of the party."
Arnott said the party should have demonstrated who or what it had consulted to learn from this situation and educate its candidates.
Arnott pointed to the #metoo movement that created unprecedented waves in Regina this summer. She said people in the province have indicated they're no longer okay with accepting the status quo of apologies without action.
"If you're young and you want to be a leader and you're paying attention to the people you want to lead — then get with the program, because the conversation in this community, particularly this summer, was not 'oh it's no big deal.' It is a big deal. We want change. We want to see a committed effort," she said.
"If you want to be a leader, then step up and lead. That means being accountable."