emarks made in the Oct. 31 question period by Prince Albert – Carlton MLA Joe Hargrave, the former minister of the Saskatchewan Transport Company, has drawn the criticism from the NDP.
NDP MLA Doyle Vermette brought up three recent deaths which occurred on highways around the Prince Albert area while addressing the value of STC to those needing medical transportation.
Hargrave responded, saying the SaskParty is taking the three recent deaths seriously, and he considers even one death on Saskatchewan roads to be too many.
“We don’t know all the circumstances, Mr. Speaker, of why people were hitchhiking on highways,” Hargrave said. “I know of one recent [accident], Mr. Speaker, that was 1:30 in the morning, Mr. Speaker. I don’t know if he was on his way to a medical appointment or what exactly it was, Mr. Speaker.”
Hargrave’s comments regarding the victim of the fatal collision drew laughter from members on the SaskParty’s side of the assembly.
Vermette didn’t get a chance to respond to Hargrave’s comments until after question period on Nov. 1.
“His response was concerning,” Vermette said over the phone to paNOW. “To have the minister make a joke about it, it’s appalling. There was nothing funny at all. I was actually shocked.”
The northern MLA said Hargrave’s comments show disconnect between the provincial government and the people they’re supposed to govern.
“I realize we go back and forth, and we heckle and that’s OK,” Vermette said. “But to have a serious question put to a minister who’s responsible for closing down STC… to have anyone make a joke about it, it’s appalling.”
paNOW reached out to the minister’s office seeking clarity on his remarks on Oct. 31 and the minster offered his apologies to the victim’s family.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the family of the person involved,” Hargrave said. “I take these matters very seriously, and if my comments yesterday leave any question about the seriousness of the situation I sincerely apologize.”
The MLA offered the same apology to the legislative assembly on Nov. 1.
Hargrave’s statement to paNOW further recommended people who find themselves alongside a highway looking for rides should walk along the shoulder of the left lane. Those who are walking should also carry a flashlight while wearing reflective clothing to make motorists aware of their presence, he said.
On Twitter: @BryanEneas
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