Saskatchewan deputy premier quits cabinet after impaired driving charge

cMorris says he will also leave the Saskatchewan Party’s caucus while he deals with the legal aspects of the matter and seeks counselling.

REGINA – Saskatchewan deputy premier Don McMorris resigned from cabinet Saturday after he says he was charged with impaired driving.

McMorris told reporters at the legislature that he spoke with Premier Brad Wall, who accepted his resignation.

McMorris said he will also leave the Saskatchewan Party’s caucus while he deals with the legal aspects of the matter and seeks counselling.

“There are no words to describe how sorry I am to my family, to my colleagues and to all the people of the province of my actions. They are absolutely unacceptable,” McMorris said.

“I should have never got behind the wheel after drinking. I know better. I absolutely know better. I take responsibility for my actions.”

McMorris said he slowed down at a construction zone in White City, east of Regina, on Friday when he was pulled over by RCMP.

He did not answer when asked by a reporter Saturday what his blood-alcohol level was.

“Today is to say I’ll be resigning from cabinet. There will be legal matters that will take place in due course,” McMorris said at a media availability.

Wall issued a short statement expressing his disappointment with McMorris.

“Drinking and driving risks and ruins lives and is completely unacceptable,” Wall said.

“I respect that Don has taken full responsibility for his actions and I support his decision to step away from caucus and seek counselling.”

McMorris was the minister of Crown investments and was the minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, the government’s publicly owned automobile insurer. He was also the minister in charge of the province’s liquor and gaming authority.

Wall said he will be naming an interim minister Monday.

In May, Saskatchewan Government Insurance launched an ad campaign against impaired driving, which noted that in 2014 there were more than 1,100 collisions where alcohol or drug use was a factor, resulting in 61 deaths and 541 injuries.

Impaired driving became an issue in Saskatchewan’s provincial election this past spring when Wall defended three of his party’s candidates who had drunk driving convictions.

Wall said at the time that the convictions were many years ago and the candidates fully disclosed them. The most recent of the convictions was 15 years ago.

The NDP also admitted during the campaign that two of its candidates had impaired driving convictions.

An RCMP spokesman said on Saturday that police were not immediately prepared to release any information on the allegations against McMorris.

McMorris said he has indicated many times that drinking and driving is dangerous and unacceptable, which is why the government has strengthened laws and penalties to combat it.

“One incident is too many, and I’m that one incident,” he said.

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