By Dan Jones

Athabasca MLA Jim Lemaigre is accusing a non-Indigenous MLA of making extremely offensive and racially charged comments. This comes after a controversial few days for Lemaigre and the governing SaskParty over the passage of the Saskatchewan First Act

Lemaigre last Wednesday on a House Committee examining Bill 88, blocked an NDP motion to have Indigenous leaders from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Metis Nation-Saskatchewan appear to give testimony, as First Nations and Metis leaders have expressed frustration over a lack of consultation on the legislation. Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre admitted that the MN-S and Prince Albert Grand Council were not engaged with, nor did the government conduct formal consultations with Indigenous Peoples.

On Thursday, following passage of the Saskatchewan First Act, MN-S Vice President Michelle LeClair expressed disappointment in Lemaigre, as did Kelly Kwan, leader of the Metis Local 40 in Turnor Lake for how Lemaigre voted and supported the Bill.

Later Thursday during debate in the Legislature, Regina Rosemont MLA Trent Wotherspoon questioned Lemaigre for debating old issues such as the price on carbon, the Impact Assessment Act, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act and other federal policies the provincial government believes are harming Saskatchewan.

“Sometimes my advice to the member from Athabasca — and I like this guy personally; I like him personally, but my advice is, sometimes you’ve got to say no. Sometimes you have to exercise your own judgment and take a stand for the people you represent,” said Wotherspoon in the Legislature Thursday.

“You know what would have been a good motion to come to this Assembly here today, by that member or any member in this Assembly, would have been an apology with respect to the Ile-a-la-Crosse residential school and Timber Bay residential school. That would have been something we could have acted upon and stood united on and resolved and ensured some recognition for those that have endured such cruel indignity,  that have suffered such horrible trauma. That’s something we could do in this Assembly right here.”

Speaking to reporters Monday, Lemaigre said he took the weekend to reflect on Wotherspoon’s comments, but said this during Member’s Statements earlier yesterday. “The member from Regina Rosemont made a number of extremely offensive and racially charged statements about me. He was speaking about our government’s policy on First Nations issues like duty-to-consult,” Lemaigre said.

“But to the Member of Rosemont: don’t you dare ever again tell me that I’m not representing my judgment and my people.”

Following Question Period Monday, Wotherspoon said his comments last week had nothing to do with race. “That’s certainly not the case. That’s baseless and wrong,” explained Wotherspoon. He said he was challenging Lemaigre to debate motions that could bring meaningful change to residents of the northwest.

“He called me out on a position of what I should think and what I should say and how I should represent my constituency,” Lemaigre told reporters yesterday. “On so many levels it had to be addressed and spoken to.”