Ghost Threats & Government Overreach

In the fall sitting of 2021, the government introduced Bill 70, which will change the delivery of security services in the Legislative Assembly. On December 6th I rose in the house to address this unprecedented move which will make the Sergeant at Arms a ceremonial position and result in the loss of jobs for our security personnel.

New security will be brought in through the Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety. The government has not provided any answers to myself or the opposition as to why it is taking this decision. The Bill has received 1st reading and will be brought back in the Spring 2022 session for 2nd and 3rd reading and Royal Assent. The transcript is posted below.

The Speaker: — I recognize the member from Saskatchewan Rivers.  Ms. Wilson: —

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s a privilege and I’m pleased to engage in this Bill No. 70, An Act to amend The Legislative Assembly Act, 2007. And I’d like to apologize in advance to the Sergeant-at-Arms and the security guards, as I’ll be talking about them.

My question is, who have they consulted? Who has the government consulted, and why? And what is actually asking for the change? There’s some questions that we’re wondering.

How does it impact the people of the province, as this change will move nearly all the security staff, the detail, and replace them with a non-partisan or a government sheriff?  And usually the security was non-partisan. They did room checks. They walked people to their car if they wished, and generally they would be very, very helpful. They were former law officers, retired RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police], some from the Army.

And, Mr. Speaker, I thought they were doing a very, very good job, so I’m not sure what needs changing.  But what effect will go on in the Chamber? That’s part of the questions we’re asking, and the people are asking me. How will schoolchildren get in? They’re worried about wedding photos outside, grads, youth playing football. Are they allowed? And what will change here? Will there be more control? Has the government reached out to the people?

Apparently there were some threats, but none of us know about these threats. Everyone I’ve talked to, nothing has been disclosed to us. So that’s another red flag. Why all of a sudden with these sheriffs?  There used to be a separation of state protecting the integrity and the sanctity of this fine institution, of this building. It’s unusual to have Chamber duty for just ceremonial duties. If the security guards need more resources, let’s give them some more.

For our current security, they’ve been very solid. It’s been close to 40 years, I believe, that they’ve been working here. Their past careers, their experiences have given the security here valuable insights and education to profile personalities and whatever other red flags.  I have personally nothing but admiration and respect. They have been so decent and respectful and kind to my guests, to the schoolchildren that come in, the seniors. All the staff, I have not heard one word of discredit, not one word of any bad behaviour. And I am so sorry that this is happening to our beautiful Legislative Assembly, just another erosion of rights and freedoms.

I think it was 1985 that there was the Ottawa attack. It was 2014 that we had the Ottawa attack with Kevin Vickers, the Sergeant-at-Arms. He protected everyone — everyone. And he was presented with the Star of Courage in bringing that incident under control, Mr. Speaker. Now there is a hero, and I believe all these men and women that are in this building to protect us would be heroes as well. 

I do not support the change in this legislature, and I’m so sorry that we have to be discussing the debate right in front of these fine men and women. I have a former RCMP friend so I reached out to her. By the way, her name is Nadine, so the two Nadines chatted about the security of the state, the security of the province, and what is happening. And I wanted to know Nadine’s views on what exactly is happening to our government and to this fine institution. So we did have a very good chat. 

Back to the bill. Legislative Protective Service or LPS means the Legislative Protective Service established. “Member of the LPS” means a member of the Legislative Protective Service. It includes weapon, a firearm, anything that could be used to “cause death or serious bodily harm to an individual; or threaten or intimidate an individual.”   As I was further reading the notes on this Bill No. 70, another explanation. New section 76.1 creates new definitions for a director, legislative district, legislative precinct, police officer, sheriff, and special constable. New section 76.2 provides for the appointment of a director of legislative security and sets out the responsibilities and powers for this office regarding the security of the legislative district. New section 76.3 sets out the individuals who are authorized to possess weapons in the legislative district and legislative precinct. 

So apparently we are setting new precedents for Saskatchewan, new precedents for this building, new precedents for the MLAs and the citizens of Saskatchewan. I personally have never been threatened, but once there were some hooligans outside and the security said, “Ms. Wilson, would you like me to walk you to your car?” And they did, and I thought that was very kind of them. Will these new sheriffs be doing things like that? Once my door slammed shut in my office, and of course my keys were in it. So again I run out to the security guards and they come and they unlock my door. Lots of kindness is shown. 

Will this new government-mandated martial law, whatever it’s going to be . . . because we don’t know. Nothing has been given to us. Nothing has been given to the stakeholders. It’s an embarrassment to Saskatchewan what is happening, Mr. Speaker. So I am not for this Bill 70. I would like to hear more about it, and perhaps some other colleagues will be asking questions so we know exactly where we are going in Saskatchewan. It’s a bit of an overreach of power, but apparently that’s becoming the norm.  So I will conclude my remarks, Mr. Speaker. I move to adjourn debate on Bill 70, An Act to amend The Legislative Assembly Act. Thank you very much.