Don McMorris could bounce back from impaired driving scandal, says analyst

Like others before him, former Saskatchewan deputy premier Don McMorris could continue his political career after an impaired driving scandal, according to a Saskatoon political expert.

Former deputy premier resigned from cabinet Saturday after impaired driving charge

A Saskatchewan political analyst says former Saskatchewan Party deputy premier Don McMorris could bounce back to continue his political career after resigning from cabinet over an impaired driving charge. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Like others before him, former Saskatchewan deputy premier Don McMorris could continue his political career after an impaired driving scandal, according to a Saskatoon political expert.  

McMorris, who was also the minister responsible for SGI and SLGA, resigned from cabinet and the Saskatchewan Party caucus Saturday after revealing he was charged with impaired driving on Friday. 

He will remain the MLA for the Indian Head-Milestone constituency in southeast Saskatchewan, but will not participate in any government caucus activities while he is seeking counselling and dealing with the criminal charge. 

Daniel Béland is a political sociologist at the University of Saskatchewan. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Daniel Béland is a political sociologist at the University of Saskatchewan and a professor at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

Politicians with driving convictions

He said there were examples of Canadian politicians who continued to serve after impaired driving incidents.  

Béland noted that five candidates who ran in the provincial election on April 4 had impaired driving convictions, including three from the Saskatchewan Party and two from the Saskatchewan NDP.

"Of course, that happened before they actually ran for office but still I think you cannot say that people cannot rehabilitate themselves, in a way, and start anew," he said. 

"But it's true that when you are the minister in charge of SGI and also the alcohol and gaming authority that it doesn't look good at all and it's a big stain on your resume." 

Saskatchewan Party MLAs Terry Dennis (Canora-Pelly), Eric Olauson (Saskatoon University) and Scott Moe (Rosthern-Shellbrook) were all elected in 2016 despite their impaired driving convictions being disclosed before the election. 

Careers continued

At the time, Premier Brad Wall defended the three as candidates, saying decisions about the convictions were made on a case-by-case-basis as part of the vetting process. 

The premier said the person's attempts to "turn things around" and their contributions since the offence were factors in those decisions. 

Former Sask. deputy premier Don McMorris speaks to reporters about his drunk driving charge and subsequent resignation. 0:17

Gordon Campbell also remained premier of B.C. after he was charged with drunk driving in Hawaii in 2003. 

Resignation will help party

Béland believes McMorris made the right decision to resign promptly, saying it would reduce the impact on the party. 

He thinks the government is strong enough to emerge from the incident relatively unscathed but predicts some of McMorris's constituents will hold him to task. 

"He's in a safe Sask. Party riding so that protects him in a way," said Béland. 

"But there are, I'm sure, people in his constituency and his riding who will pressure him to resign, or at least not to run in the next election." 

With files from Marc-Antoine Bélanger