Independent Sask. MLA raises 20-year-old hidden camera incident, questions govt. security plan

Independent Saskatchewan MLA Nadine Wilson used her weekly time in question period on Thursday to raise concerns about the government's proposed Bill 70 and cited a hidden camera surveillance incident involving the Saskatchewan Party Opposition in 2002.

Premier Scott Moe says Nadine Wilson should step down and run in a byelection

Independent Saskatchewan MLA Nadine Wilson raised questions about the government's security plans for the legislature while citing an incident involving the Saskatchewan Party opposition in 2002. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

Independent Saskatchewan MLA Nadine Wilson used her weekly time in question period on Thursday to raise concerns about the government's proposed Bill 70 and cited a hidden camera surveillance incident involving the Saskatchewan Party Opposition in 2002.

In November, Minister of Corrections, Policing, and Public Safety Christine Tell introduced Bill 70, which would remove nearly all of the sergeant-at-arms's security duties and replace him with a security director appointed by the minister.

The changes would move the sergeant to a more ceremonial role, as they would only be responsible for security within the legislative chamber. The remainder of the building, its grounds, and the other security duties would be under the watch of the new security director.

Moe said the bill will pass before the legislature breaks for the summer.

On Thursday, Wilson tabled an affidavit from two former Saskatchewan Party MLAs, Denis Allchurch and Jason Dearborn.

Both documents say that during a caucus meeting Reg Downs, then chief of staff and current advisor to Premier Scott Moe, informed members that a "surveillance operation had been undertaken" and that a hidden camera was used in the office of the Weyburn Big Muddy MLA, who was Brenda Bakken Lackey.

"The footage of the camera revealed a theft by a party caucus staff member," the affidavit said.

The staff member was dismissed.

The incident took place in 2002, but did not become public and was reported in the media in 2007.

On Thursday, Wilson used her three minutes of time to ask if any government employees have used devices to conduct surveillance.

"The answer to that is most certainly not to my knowledge or anyone's knowledge on this side of the house," Premier Scott Moe said.

Wilson responded by asking about the consequences of any future surveillance.

"Did the former chief of staff and current special advisor to the premier report to caucus that he had hidden a camera in the former MLA for Weyburn Big Muddy's office here in the legislative building. How would Bill 70 deal with this?"

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer who was in the Opposition caucus at the time, responded.

"I believe that the member is referencing something that happened before she was elected. There were specific reasons that we won't go into the detail on the floor of this assembly," Harpauer said.

"What will be the consequences of knowingly conducting surveillance in the legislative assembly without the knowledge of the sergeant-at-arms? It has happened in the building. How is the government going to deal with this with Bill 70?" Wilson asked.

Moe said he was informed during the back and forth that Bakken Lackey requested the surveillance. 

"I don't know the history," he said.

Moe defeated Allchurch for the nomination in Rosthern-Shellbrook in 2011.

Moe told reporters the advice the Opposition was given at the time was to include the sergeant-at-arms's office in any concerns over theft or crime and not handle it alone.

He said the advice has been followed and there have been no similar incidents.

Moe told reporters he did not know the name of the person who was fired.

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said he is "very concerned about Bill 70" and that the government has not made assurances it will not use private security.

Moe said the government intends to use public service employees to take over security work inside the legislature and said private firms are "not being considered."

Moe says Wilson should face byelection

Moe said during and after question period that he was hearing from Wilson's Saskatchewan Rivers constituents and they feel she is not representing them as an Independent.

In September, Wilson resigned from the Saskatchewan Party caucus for misrepresenting her vaccination status.

Wilson did not take questions from reporters after question period, but indicated she intends to continue as an Independent.

"We have an Independent member in the legislature who gets three minutes of questions a week asking questions about something that occurred 20 years ago and I think it is fair to say it's time for that member to put her name on a ballot in a byelection and ask her constituents if these are the questions they want her asking," Moe said.


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