The Sask. Party ordered Saskatoon University MLA Eric Olauson to apologize Tuesday after he asked his staff to dig into a constituent’s background.
Heather Landine emailed Olauson, a former city councillor, to express concern about cuts to library funding in the province on March 27.
The MLA’s constituency assistant requested Landine’s mailing address so Olauson could send her a letter on the matter in an email dated March 28.
At that time, Landine informed them of a planned protest on April 7 against the cuts.
“I hope [Olauson] can make it and justify these cuts to the group of constituents who will be attending,” she wrote.
“I’m eager to hear his reply and to see if he will throw the city of Saskatoon under the bus like Premier Wall or the Sask. Party.”
Landine then received a reply that appeared to not be intended for her.
“Research her in compass. Don’t reply to her about that protest. I will once I know more about her. And it will be epic,” the email read. The message was signed off with one letter – “E.”
Compass is a database of supporters maintained by the Sask. Party.
According to Landine, Olauson quickly followed up the reply seven minutes later saying he “obviously sent this to the wrong person.”
He then asked her to call him to discuss her concerns about the provincial budget.
“I was a little surprised,” Landine said. “The big thing I took away from this email was the lack of respect he had for me simply because I disagreed with what is a controversial budget.”
Landine immediately sent the correspondence to the Sask. Party and NDP, and kept the emails as a paper trail.
However, no action was taken until she posted about the emails on Facebook Monday night. The Sask. Party issued a statement on the matter the next day.
“This was clearly an error in judgment by Mr. Olauson,” the statement read.
“It is not the practice of government MLAs to do any sort of background check on constituents before they reply to correspondence. It was inappropriate of Mr. Olauson to do so.”
The province said Olauson was ordered to call Landine and apologize.
He was also removed from his position on the Meewasin Valley Authority board.
Landine said she received the call from Olauson shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday, but didn’t think it was sincere.
“It would’ve been sincere if he had called me initially,” she said. “But now that he’s been sanctioned by his party and it’s gone public, it feels a lot less sincere.”
The constituent added she doesn’t believe Olauson needs to be punished more, but would like to see him take another step.
“I think a public relations course would do him some good,” she said.