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NDP calls on province to scrap new human rights commission appointees

Saskatchewan NDP human rights critic Meara Conway says one of the appointees should be seen as a conflict of interest. (Alexander Quon/CBC - image credit)
Saskatchewan NDP human rights critic Meara Conway says one of the appointees should be seen as a conflict of interest. (Alexander Quon/CBC - image credit)

The Opposition NDP is calling on the provincial government to scrap all new appointees to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

At a news conference Monday, NDP MLA Meara Conway said the commission is supposed to be independent, but a second newly-appointed commissioner is being connected to the Sask. Party.

Conway said that Alan Thomarat is the co-president of Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre's local Sask. Party chapter.

In a social media post by Eyre dated August 28, 2021, Eyre can be seen thanking her Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota constituency "co-president" Thomarat.

In a Facebook post by Eyre dated August 28, 2021, Eyre can be seen thanking her Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota constituency 'co-president' Thomarat.
In a Facebook post by Eyre dated August 28, 2021, Eyre can be seen thanking her Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota constituency 'co-president' Thomarat.

In a Facebook post by Eyre dated August 28, 2021, Eyre can be seen thanking her Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota constituency 'co-president' Thomarat. (Bronwyn Eyre/Facebook)

"She [Eyre] knows full well that this is a clear conflict of interest. And frankly, it reeks," Conway said at the news conference.

"This is the type of backroom back scratching that makes people hate politics and hate politicians. This is the kind of thing that you see in corrupt one-party regimes. Not in Saskatchewan," she said.

Conway said the Human Rights Commission is a quasi-judicial board.

"Stacking the commission with friends and political donors is like letting someone accused of a crime pick the judge and then put their best friends on the jury," she said.

The new commissioners were appointed on Jan. 26. At that time, there was no mention of the connection.

This is the second member who is being called out for having ties with the governing party. Mubarik Syed was also appointed to the board, along with six others.

He is vying to become a Saskatchewan Party candidate in Saskatoon.

The government says in a statement that commissioners work as a consultative body for the commission and that they do not have any role in the complaint process or how it is resolved.

"Mr. Thomarat has never worked in the constituency office. Before the constituency boundaries changed, he did serve on the executive, on which his governance experience and expertise were extremely valuable," the province said in a statement.

"The very partisan narrative being crafted by the Opposition, suggesting that anyone who has ever been politically active in the community, at any level, cannot go on to serve on a public body in an unbiased, honourable, and honest fashion, is disappointing to say the least."