Harrison resigns as House leader for not telling PM he brought rifle to Sask. Legislative Building

Jeremy Harrison has resigned as leader of the Saskatchewan House of Government for failing to tell Premier Scott Moe that he had brought a hunting rifle into the legislative building in the past.

However, in an interview Friday, Harrison denied the allegation that he wanted to bring a gun.

Last week, President Randy Weekes accused Harrison of bringing a hunting rifle into the building and also wanting to bring a handgun.

Harrison did not immediately respond to the allegations, but last Friday, Premier Scott Moe told media that Harrison had told him the president’s allegations 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.

A week later, on Friday, Harrison resigned from that position in a statement shared by the government. Harrison will remain in cabinet as Minister for Trade and Export Development.

LISTEN | Jeremy Harrison gives interview about bringing a gun into the legislative building and resigning as House leader:

Jeremy Harrison Gives Interview About Bringing Gun into Legislative Building and Resigning as House Leader

Jeremy Harrison resigned as leader of Saskatchewan’s House of Government for failing to tell Premier Scott Moe about bringing a hunting rifle into the legislative building in the past, but in an interview Friday he denied he wanted to bring a gun.

Harrison addresses allegations

On Friday morning, at his constituency office in Meadow Lake, Sask., Harrison confirmed that he had, in fact, brought a gun to the legislature.

“About a decade ago, I took a long gun to the legislature for a very short period of time, about 10 minutes, where I walked in, grabbed some work, and was out on my way to a hunting trip,” he said.

Harrison said security officials knew he was bringing a gun to the legislature and that he did so so as not to leave a firearm unattended in his vehicle.

The Meadow Lake MLA said in retrospect the decision was inappropriate.

“I shouldn’t have done that. It was a mistake. It was an error in judgment,” Harrison said.

A man wearing a blue button-down shirt, gray pants, and black suit stands in a room.
MLA Jeremy Harrison was at his constituency office in Meadow Lake on Friday, following his resignation as Government House leader. (Matt Ryan for CBC)

Last week, Weekes said in his speech: “(Harrison’s) desire to obtain permission to carry a firearm in the Legislature is particularly disturbing. Another incident reported by a former special agent was when the House leader “Government representatives (broke) the rules regarding weapons when he entered the legislative building with a hunting rifle.”

Harrison said he initially didn’t catch Weekes’ accusation about bringing a rifle into the legislature.

Harrison said he remembered the incident after talking to others, and by that time the prime minister had already made public comments.

“I offered my resignation as House leader based on that memory,” Harrison said.

Under the Legislative Assembly Act, Harrison would be violating Section 76.3 by bringing a firearm into the assembly because he is not a designated individual, such as a security officer, a police officer, or someone designated by the Speaker.

Harrison said he did not ask permission to bring a gun, as Weekes alleged.

LISTEN | The CBC Sask political panel. analyzes the consequences of the spokesperson’s comments:

The Morning Edition – Sask11:46Political Panel – May 24

A little over a week ago, the speaker of the Saskatchewan legislature made some shocking allegations about his colleagues, including that a cabinet minister entered the building with a rifle and wanted to bring a handgun. We received an update from our political panel.

Weekes also accused Harrison and other government members and staff of intimidation and harassment.

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

“What happened was unfortunate and some things disconcerted me a little, particularly the accusations that were made from the presidency.”

NDP calls for Harrison to be expelled from caucus

At a news conference Friday, Saskatchewan NDP Leader Carla Beck said Harrison’s resignation as House leader is not good enough.

“Either the premier lied or his minister lied. And if that minister lied, he should be expelled from that Sask party group,” Beck told the media.

He emphasized that while it appeared that Harrison had committed no crime, it was still an affront to the legislature.

“We shouldn’t need a rule telling us we shouldn’t bring guns into the legislature,” he said.

On Thursday, Meara Conway, the NDP opposition ethics and democracy critic, sent letters to the legislature’s firearms director and security officials asking questions about Harrison and firearms.

Conway said an investigation was warranted.

He said the allegations were serious and that Moe should not take Harrison’s “word.”

“People have resigned for a lot less,” Conway said.