Details have come to light about a surveillance operation that took place in the Saskatchewan legislative building two decades ago. It involved possible unauthorized installation of a hidden camera in order to catch a thief in the Saskatchewan Party office.
“Have any government members, employees or caucus staff ever employed mobile devices in government offices, offices of elected officials or in the legislative assembly offices or other devices to conduct surveillance,” questioned Independent MLA Nadine Wilson during Question Period Thursday morning.
At the time, former Saskatchewan Party MLA Brenda Bakken noticed cash was disappearing from her purse. A hidden camera was planted in her office and a staff member was caught. The caucus surveillance operation wasn’t properly authorized. It predates the premier’s time in the legislature.
“The Sergeant-at-Arms was brought in. There was advice at that time by the Sergeant-at-Arms that likely he should have been brought in earlier,” said Premier Scott Moe.
Nadine Wilson raised it as an example of what can go wrong as the government prepares to assume control of building security from independent Sergeant-at-Arms staff. The first objected to Wilson’s comparison.
“We have an independent member in the legislature who gets three minutes of questions a week asking a question about something that occurred twenty years ago and I think it’s fair to say that it’s time for that member to put her name on a ballot in a by -election and ask her constituents, are these the questions they want her asking,” said Moe.
The NDP share some of the former Saskatchewan Party caucus member’s concerns.
“When you’ve got a situation where we’re now moving away from the Sergeant-at-Arms to a director of security that will report directly to a minister, well I start to worry about what happens in my office. What happens in anyone’s office here if we’ve got a party that’s already got that track record and is now creating more opportunities for that kind of inappropriate surveillance? Very worrisome,” said NDP leader Ryan Meili.
The incident from the early 2000s was dealt with internally without invoking police. The alleged culprit was never publicly named but did lose their job.