McMorris back in Sask. Party caucus — and back on the road — after impaired driving charge

MLA Don McMorris is returning to the Saskatchewan Party benches.

Former deputy premier had been sitting as independent MLA

Don McMorris is back with the Saskatchewan Party caucus. (Craig Edwards)

MLA Don McMorris is returning to the Saskatchewan Party benches. 

An official from the premier's office said the Indian Head-Milestone representative wrote a letter to the chair asking for government MLAs to consider his request to rejoin caucus. Caucus voted on it Monday morning.

McMorris resigned from the caucus last year following a drinking-and-driving incident.

He's been sitting as an independent MLA since then. 

​McMorris told reporters Monday afternoon that many constituents, business owners and civil servants said they wanted to see him return to the party caucus.

  "I think I can have some input that will help government moving forward," he said.   

"It's going to be a challenging year, absolutely. If my experience can help this government through these challenging times, I'm glad to be able to offer that up."

McMorris back behind the wheel

The MLA has been back behind the wheel for three months through the government's vehicle interlock program. 

Under the law, eligible people who lose their licence from impaired driving can apply to have an interlock device attached to their vehicle. McMorris's vehicle won't start unless he blows a breath sample with a blood-alcohol level of zero.

He believes the program is successful and should be expanded. He said it offers a proactive approach to tackling the issue.

Move sends wrong message, says NDP and MADD

Speaking shortly after the announcement, NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon said he disagreed with the decision.

"We have kids in communities all across Saskatchewan who we believe this sends the wrong message to," he said.

Monday is the first day of the spring sitting of legislature.

Waldron says the provincial government is sending a broken message by re-instating MLA Don McMorris to the Saskatchewan Party. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

Wotherspoon's sentiment was echoed by Wendell Waldron, Regina community leader for Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

Waldron said the provincial government had the chance to "do the right thing" by holding McMorris accountable for the full duration of his 12-month suspension and then making a decision after his suspension had expired.

Saskatchewan's fatality rate is three times the national average for fatalities resulting from impaired driving and are outdated by three decades, Waldron said. 

Waldron admitted the position is a difficult position to be in but the government has to back up their talk.

"You speak with your actions, not your words," Waldron said. 

"So we can say that we're tough on impaired driving, but if we don't actually follow through with real action — real, cohesive action — that is going to reduce our fatalities and injuries then in essence you're sending a broken message."

With files from Kendall Latimer