Saskatchewan legislature member charged with assault by choking

REGINA — A member of the Saskatchewan legislature has been charged with assault by choking.

Greg Lawrence faces two counts under the Criminal Code and is to make his first appearance in provincial court on March 18, police in Moose Jaw said in a statement Wednesday.

Police said the investigation began seven months earlier, on June 27, 2023, and involved two people, but did not provide further details or identify the alleged victim.

Lawrence, 58, has represented the riding of Moose Jaw-Wakamow since 2011 but has said he is not running again.

The Saskatchewan Party said Tuesday that Lawrence resigned from caucus and now sits as an Independent.

Lawrence, in an email, said he is not providing a statement and is still recuperating from a motorcycle crash from last summer.

Premier Scott Moe said he's deeply concerned about the charges.

"Our government has enacted some of the strictest measures and implemented some of the strongest programs for violence prevention," Moe said in a statement.

"Our work will not be deterred and we will continue to focus on violence prevention initiatives to protect our families, our communities and our province."

Opposition NDP Leader Carla Beck told reporters more needs to be done as Saskatchewan has among one of the highest rates of violence in the country.

"What the premier is saying has to be backed up by action, and I think accountability starts at the top," Beck said.

Beck said the public deserves to know when Moe knew about the investigation and why Lawrence wasn't dismissed sooner.

"We still have the right to judicial process, but there is a criminal charge laid," she said.

"I think people expect that there would be action taken to preserve that confidence in our role as elected officials."

Moe said he learned on Tuesday "that it was confirmed" police were investigating Lawrence.

He said he learned about the charges on Wednesday through media reports.

Lawrence is the second Saskatchewan politician to face charges in court in recent months.

In November, officers arrested legislature member Ryan Domotor in a sting operation to combat sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Domotor, who was removed from the Saskatchewan Party caucus and now sits as an Independent, was then charged for seeking to obtain sexual services after communicating with an undercover officer.

Domotor, who represents Cut Knife-Turtleford, is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Thursday.

His lawyer has said Domotor is looking to have the matter resolved and go through the alternative measures program.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 31, 2024.

Jeremy Simes, The Canadian Press