Saskatchewan

Former NDP cabinet minister to run as independent in Regina Walsh Acres

Former NDP cabinet minister Sandra Morin will be running in the upcoming election in Regina Walsh Acres as an independent.

Sandra Morin removed as NDP candidate in August

'The only endorsement that really matters is from my home community members,' said Sandra Morin when she announced she would be running as an independent. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Former NDP cabinet minister Sandra Morin will be running in the upcoming election in Regina Walsh Acres as an independent.

Morin announced her intentions at a media conference on Friday morning.

In August, the NDP informed the constituency association that Morin would not be the candidate. Morin was informed verbally and in writing by the party earlier this month that NDP Leader Ryan Meili would not endorse her as the candidate due to results of a "confidential vetting process."

"Mr. Meili has yet to even get enough candidates. Yet he has chosen to double down on a campaign of infighting and disrespect," Morin said.

"The only endorsement that really matters is from my home community members."

Meili denied Morin's claims at a news conference Friday afternoon, saying "the last thing we are interested in is infighting."

Morin said she made her decision to run the day before making it official but she said her "team" was ahead of her in planning a potential run as an independent.

She said she has the support of the entire NDP Walsh Acres constituency association executive and her former NDP campaign team, who are now working on her effort be be elected as an independent.

"I was hoping Mr. Meili and I could come to a resolve. Mr. Meili and I are clearly at odds in the situation."

Sandra Morin supporters at her announcement on Friday. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

On Sept. 2, Morin told CBC, "There is absolutely nothing new that has come to light. I can state that 100 per cent, unequivocally." 

Morin called the party's position "ridiculous."

At the time, Morin was bound by a confidentially agreement from disclosing the allegation until a hearing is held.

Morin is no longer subject to that agreement and can disclose what led the party to refusing her candidacy, but she said she has no intention to "spread rumours" about herself.

"I have no interest in releasing vexatious accusations by Mr. Meili," Morin said.

Meili was asked about Morin at the news conference Friday. 

"There's a reason she doesn't want to tell that story but it's her story to tell and it's up to her if she wants to," he said.

When asked if something prevented her from running for re-election in 2016, Morin said at the time she was asked by the constituents to run but her career with the RCMP was her focus.

She said she will take a leave of absence from the RCMP if she is elected. 

Independent candidate wins are very rare in Saskatchewan

Morin will have history against her to get elected, as the last independent candidate to run and win a seat in Saskatchewan was Louis Marcien Marion in the constituency of Athabasca in 1948.

Morin has received public support from former NDP cabinet ministers Eric Cline and Eldon Lautermilch.

"I think there are people within the party that are very frustrated," she said.

The Walsh Acres seat has been vacant since September 2019, when Saskatchewan Party MLA Warren Steinley resigned to run for the Conservative Party in the federal election.

Morin won a contested nomination in May 2019.

The Saskatchewan Party nominated Derek Meyers in January. Meyers was the sports director and sports anchor at Global Regina before starting his own business.

On Thursday night, the NDP sent a news release that said it was naming Kelly Hardy as its candidate for Walsh Acres.

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan Leader Ken Grey is running in Walsh Acres as is Tanner Wallace of the Saskatchewan Green Party.

Morin pointed out Friday that she is the only candidate who lives in the constituency.

'No connection' to association president stepping down

One of Morin's defenders was former Walsh Acres constituency association president Barb Dedi.

Earlier this month, Dedi said she and the association would refuse to nominate a new candidate unless "credible" information came to their attention that would disqualify Morin.

This week, the NDP confirmed Dedi was no longer the association president.

Barb Dedi (left) was the president of the Regina Walsh Acres NDP constituency association until recently. Sandra Morin (right) was the candidate for Regina Walsh Acres until late August. (Sandra Morin NDP Facebook)

Meili said the issue with Morin's candidacy had nothing to do with Dedi no longer running the constituency. 

"A harassment claim was brought forward more than a year ago. She has been asked to step down and take sensitivity training," Meili said Wednesday. 

"The timing is unfortunate because you can make those connections but there is no connection."

Meili said the anti-harassment process is "completely separate" from the political side of the party.

Dedi introduced Morin at her announcement on Friday.

She said she was emailed by the party that her position was terminated.

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

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: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

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