MLA made 'a very bad choice' in inviting convicted killer Thatcher to throne speech: Sask. safety minister

Saskatchewan Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Christine Tell, seen here in a still from the video feed from the Saskatchewan Legislature on Tuesday, said remarks she made last week about Colin Thatcher's appearance at the throne speech were inappropriate. (Saskatchewan Legislature - image credit)
Saskatchewan Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Christine Tell, seen here in a still from the video feed from the Saskatchewan Legislature on Tuesday, said remarks she made last week about Colin Thatcher's appearance at the throne speech were inappropriate. (Saskatchewan Legislature - image credit)

Saskatchewan's minister of corrections, policing and public safety says she did not have the benefit "of understanding what the ramifications were of the entire situation" last week when she said convicted killer Colin Thatcher had a right to attend the government's throne speech.

It wasn't the appropriate response to say Thatcher had a right to be at the legislature, Christine Tell told reporters on Tuesday, and she would not have invited him.

"The MLA in question made a very bad choice and bad judgment" in inviting Thatcher to the speech last week, she said.

Following the throne speech last Wednesday, Tell told reporters Thatcher had "a right to be here just like anyone else."

Thatcher, a former Saskatchewan MLA, was found guilty in 1984 of the first-degree murder of his ex-wife, JoAnn Wilson, who was found beaten and shot to death in the garage of her home the previous year.

Last week, the public safety minister said Thatcher "is a free citizen."

"Colin is not somebody who is active on warrants, has anything to do with the justice system at this point in time. He is free to come and go," Tell said.

Thatcher was sentenced to life in prison in his ex-wife's murder. He was released in 2006 and remains on parole, living in the community subject to conditions.

On Monday, Premier Scott Moe offered an "unequivocal apology" in the legislative assembly for Thatcher's invitation to the throne speech by Lyle Stewart, the Saskatchewan Party MLA for Lumsden-Morse and a longtime friend of Thatcher's.

Tell now says she regrets saying it didn't matter that Thatcher had been to the throne speech.

"It's truly wrong for me to use those words in that way, probably more in a cavalier way than I should have instead of being more careful with my words," she told reporters after question period at the legislature on Tuesday.

Saskatchewan Legislature
Saskatchewan Legislature

NDP justice critic Nicole Sarauer said Tell's initial remarks were "incredibly offensive" and was happy to hear an apology, but wondered why it took so long.

"You'd think common sense would dictate when you find out that one of your colleagues has invited a convicted wife-killer to the throne speech, that you would immediately condemn it," Sarauer told reporters.

"But frankly, any sort of apology, no matter how robust it is, is meaningless without actual action behind it," she said.

"This is a government who's ignored calls for operational funding for second-stage shelters for years, despite us … and those who do this work calling for it."

Second-stage shelters assist victims of domestic violence with long-term shelter and services. Saskatchewan is among the few provinces that don't provide operational funding for such shelters.

"What a great opportunity now to do something for survivors of intimate partner violence after this horrendous week, and put a step forward and provide these organizations with this funding that they so desperately need," Sarauer said.