Labour chief and former Sask. Liberal leader respond to video
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The bombshell video of a 1991 provincial Progressive Conservative gathering is continuing to have aftershocks in Saskatchewan.
Although the focus of the video, released by the NDP Thursday, has been on homophobic comments Regina-area MP Tom Lukiwski made, it includes a number of people who have gone on to prominent roles in government.
Union leaders say some of their comments show a deep-seated hatred that they doubt has gone away in the 17 years since the video was shot.
In one part of the tape, Kathy Young — then a PC party worker named Kathy Peters, now the executive director of Saskatchewan government communications — jokes about sending a letter bomb to Barb Byers, the then-president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, and threatening the lives of other "red union leaders".
After watching the tape, the SFL's current president, Larry Hubich, wasn't laughing.
"This is indicative of a deeply-seated, anti-union animus. This is not superficial disagreement with people," Hubich said. "They harbour deep resentment for people in the labour movement. Some would describe it as hatred."
Hubich has been in a war of words with the Saskatchewan Party government over its plans to pass essential services legislation and changes to the Trade Union Act that could make it tougher for employees to unionize.
Premier Brad Wall, who himself appears throughout the video, said the notion that the video reflects anti-union sentiment in the current government isn't true.
"If it were true, there wouldn't be a permanent seat at the board of Enterprise Saskatchewan for someone representing labour," he said. "We wouldn't have simply essential services legislation ... or amendments to the Trade Union Act that we promised for years. We'd have right-to-work legislation, we'd have draconian legislation. And we don't have that."
The video gave Wall other things to apologize for, however. One was a segment where the then-25-year-old ministerial assistant imitated a man with a Ukrainian accent and made disparaging remarks about then-NDP leader Roy Romanow.
"Roy Romanow got his head up his ass," Wall said on the video. Wall said Thursday he meant no disrespect for Ukrainians and was going to personally apologize to Romanow.
Former Saskatchewan Liberal leader Lynda Haverstock was also responding to the video on Thursday. In one part, an unidentified person refers to "that hard-headed slut Lynda" while another calls her a "f---ing idiot."
Haverstock said she hasn't listened to or watched the video, but if it denigrates and marginalizes people based on ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, the parties involved should take full responsibility for their behaviour.
"With the passage of time, most of us grow from our experience and broader knowledge," Haverstock said in a news release. "I assume that over a span of 16 years, much has happened that positively influences the characters of those whose actions were recorded."
The amateur video was filmed at a provincial Progressive Conservative social event during the 1991 Saskatchewan election campaign. Many former PC officials have since moved to the Saskatchewan Party, formed in 1997.