SASKATOON – The Saskatchewan Party’s leader says he feels “comfortable” having three candidates on the ballot in April with impaired driving convictions due to actions they’ve taken since their cases.
“We make a decision on a case by case basis, about what the person’s done to turn things around, how they’ve contributed since,” said Brad Wall, the Sask Party leader, to reporters Monday.
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“Have they sought to see some good from their very, very dangerous mistake they made,” he added.
Wall said that Terry Dennis (Canora-Pelly), Scott Moe (Rostern-Shellbrook) and Eric Olauson (Saskatoon University) all revealed their convictions as part of the party’s vetting process. Moe was convicted in 1992, Olauson in 1992 and 1993, while Dennis was convicted in 1979 and 2001.
“I think timing matters, how current is the situation,” said Wall.
A Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP) official confirmed that two candidates, Dwayne Lasas (Meadow Lake) and Lyle Whitefish (Saskatchewan Rivers), also revealed past impaired driving convictions before becoming candidates.
“Each had incidents years ago which resulted in summary offences for driving while impaired and each paid a fine,” said the official in an emailed statement.
“If a person makes a mistake, pays the price, acknowledges their mistake and makes the changes necessary in their life to ensure it never happens again, it simply should not disqualify that person from later running for office.”
The DUI convictions add to a campaign that leaders say is about the future, but has been marked by flawed histories. Over the weekend, two more NDP candidates were dropped from the ballot due to past inappropriate behaviour on social media.
The most recent dismissals added to two previous cases and also included the party’s campaign manager. Saskatchewan NDP Leader Cam Broten wouldn’t detail what the most recent posts contained, but said they were discovered when he instructed officials to look further into his candidate’s social media histories.
“It was clear that action needed to be taken, I took that action and what we’re focused on is this campaign,” said Broten.
That action, however, may not be enough to salvage a chance to form government, according to University of Saskatchewan political scientist Greg Poelzer. He called the NDP social media revelations “nothing short of being disastrous” and suggested that the party may be better off arguing its case to be a “strong opposition” rather than the governing party.
“Say yes they’d like to form government, but maybe it’s important to be a strong opposition,” said Poelzer.
“It’s the kind of reality check and kind of a reassessment of where they are with this campaign,” he added.