Saskatchewan Deputy Premier Don McMorris has resigned after being charged with impaired driving.
McMorris, who was also the minister responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) and Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), addressed media at the legislature Saturday morning.
“I have spoken with premier Wall and tendered my resignation from cabinet, which he has accepted, I will also be leaving the government caucus,” McMorris said.
McMorris told reporters he was pulled over while driving into Regina from Fort Qu’Appelle on Aug. 5.
“I was just coming in from the lake…and coming in going by White City through the construction. I’d slowed down, but they pulled me over,” he said.
The minister declined to say what his blood alcohol level was when he was stopped, but added he would be seeking counselling.
In May, McMorris spoke out against impaired driving when SGI unveiled a new multi-platform ad aimed at drunk drivers. The minister has also touted the province’s work to toughen laws for those found guilty of being drunk or high behind the wheel.
“I know better, I absolutely know better,” he said Saturday.
“(The government) has done a lot to try and strengthen the penalties, to try and reduce the incidents of drinking and driving. I think it has come down, but one incident is too many and I am that one incident.”
When asked about how the incident reflects on his former status as minister of SLGA and SGI, McMorris said his legislative responsibilities weren’t the issue.
“The issue is I got behind the wheel when I shouldn’t have and I will be forever sorry…it’s unacceptable,” he said.
Premier Brad Wall addressed the incident in a written statement Saturday.
“I am very disappointed in his actions. Drinking and driving risks and ruins lives and is completely unacceptable,” Wall said.
The premier will name an interim deputy premier Monday.
FULL STATEMENT FROM PREMIER BRAD WALL
I have accepted Don McMorris’ resignation from cabinet. I am very disappointed in his actions. Drinking and driving risks and ruins lives and is completely unacceptable.
I respect that Don has taken full responsibility for his actions and I support his decision to step away from caucus and seek counselling.
I will be naming an interim minister to assume his responsibilities on Monday and will be available to speak with the media at that time.
FULL STATEMENT FROM DON MCMORRIS
Yesterday, I was charged with impaired driving. I have no words to describe how sorry I am to my family, to my colleagues and to all the people of Saskatchewan for my actions.
But saying sorry is not enough.
I have spoken with Premier Wall and tendered my resignation from cabinet, which he has accepted. I will also be leaving the government caucus while I deal with the legal aspects of this matter and seek counselling.
You have heard me say many times that drinking and driving is dangerous and unacceptable and we must do everything we can to stop it.
That’s why our government has strengthened laws and penalties and has taken steps to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving.
I never should have gotten behind the wheel after drinking. I know better. I am very sorry and take responsibility for my actions.