Harrison resigns as house leader for not telling premier he brought hunting rifle into Sask. legislature

Jeremy Harrison has resigned as Saskatchewan Government House Leader after revealing he did bring a long gun into the legislature in the past.  (Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Jeremy Harrison has resigned as Saskatchewan Government House Leader after revealing he did bring a long gun into the legislature in the past. (Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Jeremy Harrison has resigned as Saskatchewan government House leader for not telling Premier Scott Moe about bringing a hunting rifle into the legislature in the past, but in an interview Friday denied that he wanted to bring in a handgun.

Last week, Speaker Randy Weekes accused Harrison of bringing a hunting rifle into the building and seeking permission to bring a handgun in as well.

On Friday, Harrison released the following statement:

"On May 16, the Speaker made a number of allegations about my use of firearms. I have never had a firearm in the legislative chamber or anywhere in the legislative building during the period that MLA Weekes has been Speaker," Harrison said.

"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."

Last Friday, Moe told reporters Harrison told him the allegations made by the Speaker were "unequivocally false."

Moe said he had confidence in Harrison to continue in his role and called him one of the best house leaders in the country.

On Friday, Harrison resigned from that position.

"I apologize for this lapse in judgment and for not advising the premier of this one occasion immediately following the Speaker's statement. I have offered and the premier has accepted my resignation as Government House Leader," Harrison said in his statement.

Harrison will remain in cabinet as the minister of trade and export development.

Harrison addresses allegations

Last week, Weekes said in his speech, "[Harrison's] desire to get permission to carry a handgun in the Legislative Assembly is particularly disturbing. Another incident reported by a former special constable was when the government House leader [flouted] the rules concerning weapons when he brought a hunting rifle into the Legislative Building."

Harrison spoke to those accusations Friday in an interview in his constituency of Meadow Lake.

"I categorically and unequivocally deny accusations that were made by the Speaker except for one," Harrison said.

He said he stopped into the legislative building to grab some work on the way to a hunting trip about 10 years ago and had his hunting rifle with him.

"I shouldn't have done that, it was a mistake," he said.

Harrison offered an explanation for why he did not initially disclose the information to the premier after Weekes raised it.

"I didn't actually catch [Weekes's statement about the rifle] until some period of time after it was made."

Harrison said he remembered the incident after conversations with others, and by that time the premier had made public comments.

"Security was aware I brought my long gun into the assembly," Harrison said. "I did it because I did not want to leave it in a parked vehicle in a parking lot, which is not something you should do, but I should not have stopped at the building."

According to the Legislative Assembly Act, Harrison would be in violation of section 76.3 by bringing a firearm into the assembly because he is not a designated individual such as a security official, police officer or someone designated by the Speaker.

He said he did not seek permission to bring in a handgun, as Weekes alleged.

Weekes also accused Harrison and government members and staff of bullying and harassment.

Harrison said Friday that he was "surprised and disappointed" by those allegations.

"What happened was unfortunate and I was a bit mystified by some of it, particularly the allegations that were made from the chair."

On Thursday, Opposition NDP ethics and democracy critic Meara Conway sent letters to the chief firearms officer and security officials at the legislature asking questions about Harrison and firearms.

Conway said an investigation was warranted.

She said the allegations were serious and that Moe should not take Harrison's "word for it."

"People have resigned for far less," Conway said.