Sask. sergeant-at-arms resigns amid overhaul of legislature security

Terry Quinn, the head of security at the Saskatchewan Legislature, has resigned from his position as sergeant-at-arms amid a government bill that would strip away most of his responsibilities.

Sask. government Bill 70 would remove most of sergeant's responsibility

Former sergeant-at-arms Terry Quinn submitted his resignation on Monday, roughly three months after the government introduced a bill that would remove most of his responsibilities as head of legislative security. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

Terry Quinn, the head of security at the Saskatchewan Legislature, has resigned from his position as sergeant-at-arms amid a government bill that would strip away most of his responsibilities.

Quinn's resignation was posted on the legislative assembly website on Tuesday.

"We thank Mr. Quinn for his dedication and years of service with the Assembly," said Speaker Randy Weekes in a statement.

Weekes said Quinn submitted his resignation on Monday.

Quinn had been in the position since June of 2016.

Sean Darling, who was Quinn's deputy, has been appointed as the new sergeant-at-arms. 

Since 1984, a legislature security team has been overseen by the sergeant-at-arms, who reports to the Speaker and operates independently of the political parties.

In November, Minister of Corrections, Policing, and Public Safety Christine Tell introduced Bill 70, which would remove nearly all of the sergeants' 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.

The bill has gone through first reading and is set to be debated in committee this spring.

The Opposition NDP has called for the bill to be pulled, calling the proposed security force "partisan" and asking Tell to explain why the changes were necessary.

Tell and Premier Scott Moe have defended the move. In November, Tell said incidents reported to the existing security team, which is comprised of former police officers, had not been handled to the government's liking.

"We haven't been able to get them addressed effectively and we'd rather be proactive in our security stance than reacting when something bad happens."

Neither Tell nor Moe has given specific examples of incidents that prompted the bill.

In December, Moe said the bill was not an attempt to limit or restrict protesting, but said the goverment was acting proactively, rather than reactively.

"This has nothing to do with clamping down on protests. It's about really ensuring the functioning of government to ensure the security of all the folks that work in, or visit this building."

Tell, said during debate on the issue that "the world is changing" and a new security force was needed. She compared the changes to how security is handled in B.C. and Alberta, but in those provinces, the sergeant-at-arms is responsible for more than just the chamber itself.

Opposition justice critic Nicole Sarauer asked Tell why — if security threats are real — the issue of building security had not been addressed at a committee of members from both parties, as is typically the process.

"This is a government building, so, what can I say? We're the government," Tell said.

Sarauer expressed concern that alleged security threats claimed as the motivation for the bill were not shared with the Opposition or other groups that work in the building.

Tell said the new security team was not motivated by cost savings.

She could not answer how many officers she anticipated the force to have, whether the force would be armed, or whether they would be uniformed.

On Wednesday, Sarauer provided a response in an email and thanked Quinn for his "dedicated service."

"Terry was a true professional and cared for his role. Sean Darling will have large shoes to fill but I am certain he will do a fantastic job as our new sergeant-at-arms and thank him for assuming the role at such a challenging time."

Sarauer said the resignation following the introduction of Bill 70 "continues a troubling pattern from this government."

"We are losing capable leaders, as we did with Scott Livingstone, as a result of the political interference of this government. This Sask. Party government needs to shelve its plan for a partisan security force and scrap Bill 70," Sarauer said.

The Saskatchewan government said it deferred to the Speaker, who has responsibility in assembly matters, on questions regarding the sergeant-at-arms.

Former sergeant-at-arms puzzled by proposed changes

Patrick Shaw was the sergeant-at-arms in Saskatchewan from 1995 to 2015.

In December, he said, "I personally don't see what is to be gained by changing it."

Shaw said that during his tenure he worked closely with the Regina Police Service and RCMP, and that there were never issues his office could not handle.

"I think it's very, very important that there's an independent body there that serves all parties in the non-partisan way," Shaw said.

"If that doesn't happen, what's going to happen when there is, and there will be at some point, a change of government?"


Adam Hunter


Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for more than 14 years. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him:

with files from Alexander Quon