Saskatchewan's new justice minister ready to take on Ottawa, defend resources

·3 min read

REGINA — Challenging federal legislation and cracking down on rural crime are top of mind for Saskatchewan's new justice minister and attorney general.

Bronwyn Eyre became the first woman appointed to the portfolio on Tuesday when Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe shuffled his cabinet.

"I love the law. I respect the law deeply and I will be a proud representative of this ministry," said Eyre, the former energy minister.

She said she plans to focus on constitutional talks as they relate to energy, resources and the environment.

Some federal legislation has hurt the province, Eyre said, specifically an act that allows Ottawa to consider the effects of new resource projects on a range of environmental and social issues, including climate change.

Eyre has called the legislation a "wrecking ball" on a province's right to explore and develop its own energy resources.

Earlier this month, Alberta’s top court gave its opinion that the law is unconstitutional, but the federal government plans to appeal. Saskatchewan had participated in the legal reference in support of its western neighbour.

"Should that move on to the Supreme Court of Canada, certainly we will be intervening in that action as well," Moe said Tuesday.

Saskatchewan is on the cusp of further investment and opportunity, Moe said, and he doesn't want to see that disrupted by Ottawa.

The province is experiencing a resource boom in potash, uranium and oil brought on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and global supply chain issues.

"We are going to defend Saskatchewan interests and if that means we are going to have to use the Constitution to do it, we will," Moe said.

"(Eyre) certainly has the experience that we will need to ensure that we are defending that opportunity, legally, if necessary."

Eyre and Moe also have concerns over proposed federal legislation that could eliminate mandatory minimum penalties for firearms and drug offences. They said they will be looking at ways the province can respond should mandatory minimums be removed.

"Rural crime and public safety ... that's going to be a leading issue for me going into this role," Eyre said.

Moe once before appointed a woman to hold a political position for the first time. In his 2020 cabinet shuffle, he made Donna Harpauer deputy premier.

"(She's) someone that I lean on for experience, I lean on for guidance, whether it be in my personal life or in our professional life," Moe said. He expressed the same confidence in Eyre.

It's important to have women in powerful positions, he said, but added Harpauer and Eyre were appointed on merit alone.

"We need to work to become more diverse and more reflective of our province in the years and elections ahead, and that work is underway."

Eyre was one of five cabinet ministers to get a new portfolio.

Jim Reiter took over energy and resources, while Gordon Wyant was appointed to advanced education.

Gene Makowsky became the social services minister. Lori Carr is now responsible for SaskBuilds and Procurement, the Public Service Commission and the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.

Jeremy Cockrill became the minister of highways and will be responsible for the Water Security Agency, while Dana Skoropad is the new environment minister. They replaced Fred Bradshaw and Warren Kaeding, who are out of cabinet.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2022.

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting