A new controversy surrounding MLA Darryl Hickie is a shameful episode in partisan politics.
The retiring Sask. Party member for Prince Albert Carlton has decided to return to the police work that preceded his time as a politician. There are a couple of problems that his critics see as Hickie retrains to enter the police force when he’s done.
First, they don’t like the fact that he is double dipping as he draws paycheques from both the city and the province. Later in the day, a statement from Premier Brad Wall clarified that if Hickie goes back to work full-time as an officer, he’ll resign as MLA.
Second, the critics worry that there could be the perception that NDP supporters would be treated differently by Hickie than Sask. Party supporters.
Let’s start with the first matter.
If you know many police officers or firefighters, you’re aware that they invariably have sidelines that they work at on their days off. Since their tours usually involve multiple days off on a reasonably regular basis, they make a little money on the side with secondary interests.
Granted, Hickie’s side job is a little bigger than putting in somebody’s windows, but the motivation is clear.
If he has found a way to make some policing work without reducing his service to constituents -- which is an interesting proposition -- he is free to do what he wants.
The second part of the equation is everything that stinks about partisan politics.
NDP justice critic John Nilson worries that a police officer shouldn’t have some of the information that an MLA knows and that the reverse is also true. It’s important to note that Hickie was a member of the force during his entire period in the Legislature, although he was technically on leave.
He also suggested that it doesn’t feel right for a constituent to get a ticket from or be investigated by their MLA.
This feels like an opportunistic attack on a good person who has served his community as both a cop and an elected representative.
The problem is that in today’s hyper-partisan environment, perception always seems to be the reality for half of the people.
This puts Prince Albert Police Service Chief Troy Cooper in an awkward position. On one hand the chief has to publicly support someone who by all reports is a good officer; on the other, Cooper will have to remain highly attuned to what Hickie is doing.
An officer who is political dynamite isn’t an easy one to have around, regardless of their talent and devotion to the job.
Despite the fact that we have no concerns that Hickie would abuse either of his positions of trust, it might be a good idea for the department to reduce his exposure to political attacks as he trains by making him extremely low profile.
The only crime here might be that a good officer is taken off the street.
Prince Albert Daily Herald