NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon called the provincial budget callous and mean-spirited, but it’s when he called it deceitful that he was told he crossed the line.
On Thursday, Wotherspoon and Premier Brad Wall sparred over the budget, the debt and the axing of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC).
“This is a premier who didn’t say boo about this in the run-up to the election, through the election, or beyond,” said Wotherspoon during question period.
“He looked in the whites of the eyes of Saskatchewan people. Hand over heart, he pledged that he wouldn’t sell off the Crown corporations. This is deceitful and it’s damaging, Mr. Speaker. It’s clear that the premier’s word just isn’t worth much.”
Wall defended closing STC, saying it wasn’t being sold and ridership had declined significantly.
But it seems the use of the word deceitful was too much for the government.
Government house leader Paul Merriman stood and addressed the Speaker, saying that Wotherspoon had used the word four times. Merriman referenced decisions in the house from 1960 and 1977, which ruled the use of “deceived” and “deliberately deceived” were out of order.
Though the opposition house leader argued, the Speaker told Wotherspoon his words did not add to decorum and told him to withdraw and apologize.
Wotherspoon refused twice – the first time he was interrupted by an outburst from the government side of the legislature.
“I can’t apologize for this deceptive budget and the deceit of this premier,” said Wotherspoon.
The Speaker reprimanded Wotherspoon for “disregarding the authority of the chair” before kicking him out of the assembly for the rest of the day.
“I couldn’t in good faith apologise and withdraw comments calling this a deceitful budget when it is as deceitful as it gets,” Wotherspoon said to reporters afterwards. “The conditions right now and the actions of government are as dishonest as they get and to try to wordsmith that in a way that waters down what this government is doing it is maybe difficult to do.”
On social media, Wotherspoon received praise from supporters.
— Darcy Sharman Shires (@dsharman) March 23, 2017
— Mitchell Anderson (@mjamesanderson) March 23, 2017
— Katia Hildebrandt (@kbhildebrandt) March 23, 2017