'We're getting far too personal': Arrest history of Sask. Premier and NDP leader raised during debate

Question period turned personal on Monday during a debate about cabinet ministers attending yellow vest rallies.

Question about cabinet ministers attending yellow vest rallies turns personal

The subject of Premier Scott Moe and NDP leader Ryan Meili's respective arrests from their pre-political careers caused a stir on Monday. (CBC)

Question period turned personal on Monday during a debate about cabinet ministers attending yellow vest rallies.

It was likely the first time the arrest history of two party leaders was ever raised in a debate in the same question period.

NDP Leader Ryan Meili said there was a "dark link" between the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand which left 50 people dead and views shared by some in the yellow vest movement. Specifically, an opposition to the UN migration compact.

"The shooter used terminology, on his rifle he'd written 'here's your UN migration compact'," Meili said.

The pact outlines objectives for treating global migrants humanely and efficiently.

Meili asked Premier Scott Moe for his position on the migration pact. The Minister of Energy Bronwyn Eyre turned the debate towards Meili's history as a protester himself.

"That day back in 2001, he [Meili] joined forces with the Sierra Club, the International Socialists Union. None other than Cuban dictator Fidel Castro sent a special note of support to the protesters," Eyre said.

"You can be sure that if Facebook existed back then there would be some pretty far out posts."

Eyre said Meili presents everyone who has attended a pro-oil rally "as a racist."

Meili countered by raising the drinking and driving arrests of government MLAs, including the premier. Moe was convicted of drunk driving in 1992.

"I will happily stand up for having been arrested for standing up for my convictions rather than having been convicted for not being able to stand and trying to drive."

Meili said he was protesting at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City over concerns of climate change and clean water. He spent one day in jail.

"We're getting far too personal. It's got no business in this chamber," said Speaker Mark Docherty.

Premier condemns Islamophobia, Meili denounces yellow vest movement

Before the personal attacks, Meili asked Moe if he still supported his caucus attending rallies "with even the loosest association with any form of hate speech."

Meili said the yellow vest movement in Canada has promoted an anti-immigration message at rallies and online.

Protesters wearing yellow vests held signs and voiced their displeasure with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of his town hall meeting in Regina on Jan. 10, 2019. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

Moe said all members of his government "condemn any violence against any community in this province or abroad no matter their faith or creed. We also condemn any form of Islamophobia."

Earlier this year, the Minister of Rural and Remote Health Greg Ottenbreit attended a yellow vest rally in his constituency in Yorkton. Minister of Highways Lori Carr attended a similar rally in her constituency of Estevan.

Moe said both were hearing their constituent's concerns about the energy industry.

Moe and Meili took questions from reporters following the heated debate.

On the yellow vest movement Moe said, "we should not paint all of these people with the same brush."

He said at the rallies his cabinet ministers attended people were concerned about their jobs in the energy industry.

Moe also defended the government's record on immigration. He said 108,000 immigrants from 190 countries have moved to Saskatchewan over the last decade.

Moe said he had not visited Facebook to read comments or posts by people supporting the terrorist attack in New Zealand.

Demonstrators wearing yellow vests blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for delays with pipeline expansion in B.C. (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

Meili said comments following the attack online were anti-Muslim, anti-immigration and inciting violence against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"For the premier to be unwilling to distance himself from those events and that movement is irresponsible," Meili said.

"When political leaders show up at rallies that are connected to hate speech, that are connected to far-right extremism, that are connected to Islamophobia, they give credence. They normalize this."

Meili said it's the responsibility of Moe and federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer who he says have been "flirting with these movements, to shut it down and show leadership."

About the Author

Adam Hunter


Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 13 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: