Saskatchewan MLA quits as house leader, says he took gun into legislature decade ago

REGINA — One week after Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe publicly assured people there was no truth to the accusation his government house leader Jeremy Harrison brought a long gun into the legislature, Harrison says it did indeed happen.

Harrison admitted Friday to bringing in the weapon while also announcing he was stepping down as government house leader because of it.

Harrison remains in Moe’s cabinet as the minister responsible for trade and immigration issues while the Opposition NDP says the entire affair raises serious questions about the premier.

“I apologize for this lapse in judgment and for not advising the premier of this one occasion," Harrison said in a statement.

“I have offered, and the premier has accepted, my resignation as government house leader.

“Approximately a decade ago, I was going hunting on a weekend.

“I stopped at the legislative building for a short period of time and brought a properly cased long gun into the building with the knowledge of security officials so as to not leave it unattended in my vehicle in the parking lot.

“In retrospect, I should not have done this."

The government house leader is responsible for shepherding government bills through the house.

The Opposition NDP had been demanding for days that Harrison step forward and explain allegations made a week ago by Speaker Randy Weekes on the final day of the spring sitting.

Simmering tensions between Weekes and fellow members of the Saskatchewan Party caucus boiled over that day, with Weekes publicly accusing them of trying to bully him in his job as an impartial arbiter of house debate.

He singled out Harrison as the prime culprit, saying Harrison sent intimidating text messages and flashed the inside of his suit jacket — suggesting he was carrying a handgun.

Weekes also accused Harrison of flouting house rules by once bringing a hunting rifle into the building.

The following day, Moe dismissed all the allegations, telling reporters: “I have been informed they are all unequivocally false.”

On Friday, NDP Leader Carla Beck said she wants to know why the truth wasn't told sooner.

"'Unequivocally false' was Premier Scott Moe's response a week ago," Beck told reporters.

"It's now clear that Premier Scott Moe lied to the people of Saskatchewan. Either that, or his minister lied to the people of Saskatchewan. And if that's the case, that minister needs to be booted from caucus."

She added, "The question to the premier is, 'Are you OK with one of your ministers shown to be a liar?'

"I think the answer to that should be no.

"We should not be OK with any public official lying and then thinking they can paper it over."

Weekes declined to comment Friday. He has represented the Saskatchewan Party since 1999. He lost his nomination for the constituency of Kindersley-Biggar and has since quit the party.

Harrison is the Saskatchewan Party candidate in the constituency of Meadow Lake for this year's election.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.

Jeremy Simes, The Canadian Press