Leader of the Opposition NDP Carla Beck made it clear to Premier Scott Moe that Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill should be fired for what she said were statements that misled the public. That includes an alleged incident of lying about an apology Cockrill claims to have delivered to a grieving parent. Beck issued the demand in a media statement on April 22.  

Taya Thomas met with Minister Cockrill regarding issues surrounding schools and classrooms that impacted her daughter prior to her passing away due to medical complications.  

“For me, this minister’s treatment of Taya was the final straw. It just shows that this minister lacks basic empathy and honesty,” said Beck. “He’s misled the public on numerous occasions — including in his very first interview — and most recently with his behaviour towards Taya. We need to get a deal that addresses funding cuts in our schools and it’s clear now that this minister hurts more than he helps.”    

An NDP statement outlines questioning after Cockrill queried to Thomas during the meeting whether Saskatchewan teachers expected him to “give up his first-born child.”  The Minister claimed he had subsequently apologized to Taya Thomas during the encounter, but Thomas’s friend, who was in the meeting to support her, said that Cockrill’s statement was “categorically false.” 

Beck went on to bring up Cockrill’s statements around responses received in regard to the issue of pronoun use in Saskatchewan schools. Beck relayed Cockrill’s statements that every MLA in every riding had heard concerns from parents about teachers withholding information on what pronoun their child was using in school. Beck stated that MLA Everett Hindley immediately contradicted Cockrill's assertion by saying he had not personally encountered the stated concerns. 

During the media scrum on Monday, NDP Education Critic Matt Love furthered the non-confidence message.  

“The Minister then claimed to have heard from tens of thousands of people about the issue when internal documents show that he only received 18 emails,” said Love, referring to the pronoun issue. “He then lied about the STF leaving the bargaining table after 30 minutes when video footage showed otherwise.” 

The NDP characterized Cockrill’s claims around bargaining as misleading with an effect or souring relations between educators and the government.  

“I’ve heard from teachers and parents over the weekend who believe that this minister has lost the trust of the education sector. Small wonder why this job action has dragged on for months when this minister isn’t trusted by teachers and parents,” said Love.    

Beck concluded that Cockrill lacked the integrity, humility and empathy for the posting and called on Premier Scott Moe to relieve Cockrill of the position.