Don McMorris behind wheel of government vehicle at time of impaired driving charge
Jim Reiter takes over ministerial roles for SGI, SLGA following McMorris's resignation from cabinet
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says his former deputy premier Don McMorris was driving a government vehicle through a construction zone when he was charged with impaired driving on Friday.
McMorris announced news of the charge and his subsequent resignation from cabinet on Saturday morning.
McMorris was responsible for the provincial insurer SGI and the liquor and gaming authority, SLGA, along with his deputy premier role. He was also the minister for Crown Investments, Public Service Commission and Lean Initiative.
Jim Reiter takes on minister duties
Wall has named Jim Reiter the interim replacement for some of former deputy premier Don McMorris's ministerial roles.
Reiter will take over as interim minister responsible for the provincial insurer SGI and the liquor and gaming authority, SLGA, as well as for the Public Service Commission.
The new duties are added to Reiter's lengthy list of current responsibilities as the minister of government relations, minister responsible for First Nations, Métis and northern affairs and minister responsible for SaskEnergy and SaskTel.
"Jim Reiter has been a strong and capable minister for our government in all of the portfolios he has held and I know he will do a good job of handing these additional duties," Wall said in a statement.
McMorris seeking counselling
McMorris said he received the impaired driving charge while returning home from the Fort Qu'Appelle region. He said he was pulled over in a construction zone near White City, a community about 10 kilometres east of Regina.
Wall said McMorris had been driving a government vehicle at the time, during the day on Friday.
On Saturday morning, McMorris apologized for his actions.
I'm very disappointed. This was a terrible decision that he made.- Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall
"I never should have gotten behind the wheel after drinking. I know better," said McMorris on Saturday. "I am very sorry and take responsibility for my actions."
McMorris also said he'll be seeking counselling, but didn't say in what form.
Wall said he was "very disappointed" in McMorris's actions and accepted the resignation.
"I'm very disappointed. This was a terrible decision that he made," he said.
As minister responsible for SGI, McMorris spoke out against drunk driving as part of the launch of a new provincial awareness campaign in May.
"We've worked hard in this province through awareness programs and by toughening up laws, to send a pretty clear message about drinking and driving. And so, you know, when I talked to him on Friday and accepted his resignation, there's just great disappointment around this," Wall said.
Wall confirmed that while McMorris is still a member of the Sask. Party, and is still an MLA, he is no longer a Sask. Party MLA and now sits as an independent.
Deputy premier position to remain vacant
Wall said the deputy premier position will remain vacant until an upcoming cabinet shuffle, which Wall promised in the provincial election in April.
He said the shuffle will take place in two to three weeks.
When asked about whether the former deputy premier would ever be appointed to a cabinet position again, Wall said things down the road will be determined by how McMorris "avails himself in terms of counselling and support."
"I haven't thought much about who will never, ever be in cabinet and who will be in cabinet forever," he said.
Previous impaired driving convictions in Sask. Party
McMorris is not the first member of the Saskatchewan Party to receive an impaired driving charge.
During the provincial election in April it was revealed that 3 candidates from the Sask. Party had impaired driving convictions. There were also two NDP candidates with previous convictions.
Wall at the time said he was "more than comfortable" knowing about the past criminal convictions, and added that parties need to be accountable for the teams they put together.
On Monday, Wall said the government will keep working to reduce incidents of impaired driving as well as deaths linked to it.
"We have the dubious distinction of being a leader in this category. We need to stop this."
With files from the CBC's Adam Hunter