Saskatchewan minister asks man guilty of domestic assault to return service medal

The Opposition New Democrats say it shows a pattern of the provincial government not taking intimate partner violence seriously.

A Saskatchewan cabinet minister has apologized aftera public service medal was given to a man who pleaded guilty to domestic assault, but the Opposition New Democrats say it shows a pattern of the provincial government not taking intimate partner violence seriously. 

“It is not appropriate for someone who is guilty of domestic abuse to receive a medal or an honour from the province,” Agriculture Minister David Marit said in a statement Tuesday. 

Jim Wickett, a former chairman of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association from Rosetown, Sask., was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal in December.

Provincial court records show Wickett was charged for the assault last June in Rosetown. He pleaded guilty Feb. 9. 

He was given a conditional discharge with nine months probation. 

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Marit said he accepted ministry recommendations for the award last year and put forward nominations for people who had served in the agriculture industry.

Marit said that at the time of the nomination and the medal presentation he was not aware of Wickett’s charge.

“To be clear, I would never have nominated someone for such an honour had I known,” the minister said.

Jennifer Bowes, status of women critic for the NDP, said it shows “an unfortunate pattern that we are seeing from this government.”

The Saskatchewan Party government apologized last year after a man convicted of first-degree murder attended its throne speech. 

Lyle Stewart, who has since resigned his seat because of his health, was stripped of his legislative secretary duties after inviting notorious killer Colin Thatcher to the speech.   

Thatcher’s ex-wife, JoAnn Wilson, was found beaten and shot to death in the garage of her Regina home in 1983.

Stewart later called the decision to invite Thatcher “an error in judgment.”

Bowes noted that Saskatchewan has extremely high rates of domestic violence.

“(The Saskatchewan Party) seems to not be taking seriously what kind of message it sends to the people of the province when people who abuse women are honoured by this government,” Bowes said. 

Maritsaid he learned of Wickett’s charge and guilty plea last week. Speaking after question period in Regina on Tuesday, the minister said he immediately reached out to the government’sprotocol office. 

Wickett complied with a request to have the medal returned, Marit said. 

Global News first reported that Marit nominated Wickett, and it requested comment last week from the minister about the charge.

Marit said the provincial government is committed to working to end domestic abuse.

“I am very apologetic to victims and survivors of domestic abuse. It has no place in society,” he said.

“Our government does everything we can to eliminate domestic abuse.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2023. 

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