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Newly-appointed human rights commissioner seeks Sask. Party nomination

Syed said he started the nomination process last year in November after many years of his friends pushing him for this marathon. (Photo: submitted) Syed said he started the nomination process last year in November after many years of his friends pushing him for this marathon. (Photo: submitted)
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Saskatoon’s newest human rights commissioner is vying for the nomination in a long-held Sask. Party seat.

Sask. Party Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre drew criticism in January when, following the retirement of Chief Commissioner Barry Wilcox, she appointed an entirely new slate of commissioners to the body.

Prior to the shakeup in membership, the provincial government drew criticism from the commission for its controversial law governing children’s use of pronouns in school — one commissioner even quit in protest.

Mubarik Syed said he intends to seek the nomination for the Sask. Party in the Saskatoon Southeast riding the seat held by veteran outgoing MLA Don Morgan.

Syed said he started the nomination process last year in November after many years of his friends pushing him for this marathon.

“I didn’t think that was something for me,” Syed said in an interview with CTV News.

“I know people and people know me, I couldn’t just say no any longer.”

Syed said his interest in SHRC has a longer history than his interest in politics.

“I was consulted, I was requested long time back, and asked if I was interested in being one of the human rights commissioners because some of the commissioners were retiring and their terms were coming to an end.”

Announcing the new faces for the SHRC on January 26, Eyre also said the new appointments replace members whose terms had all expired at the same time.

“Mr. Syed is an approved candidate for the Saskatoon Southeast Nomination,” Saskatchewan Party executive director Patrick Bundrock said.

“Mr. Syed will be abstaining from the board till the completion of the nomination and will be resigning if nominated.”

Outgoing Saskatoon Southeast MLA Don Morgan with Mubarik Syed (Source: Twitter / SaskVotes2024)

Heather Kuttai, a former commissioner in Saskatoon, said the chief commissioner needs to examine Syed’s nomination “very carefully” as she believes it represents a conflict of interest.

Kuttai resigned as SHRC commissioner last December over the pronoun policy, describing the bill as “an attack on the rights” of vulnerable children.

“When I was a commissioner, it was very important that we remain nonpartisan,” she said in a phone interview with CTV News.

“I couldn’t do as much as put up a lawn sign during an election time, let alone run for a particular party.”

She said there is no way that you can appear unbiased if you’re running for a particular party.

A SHRC spokesperson contends that only the chief commissioner has a role in the process of investigating human rights complaints.

The other appointees are only part of a “consultative body,” and are unpaid, the statement said.

For Syed, being a human rights commissioner and running for politics are two separate matters and “should be dealt with separately.”

“What is really that I gain out of the coming human rights commissioner materialistically,” he asked.

“It is not a job and I am not getting a salary. It’s basically a volunteer appointment.”

Syed said there haven’t been any SHRC meetings or engagements since his appointment and he will abstain from the commission until “the nomination is over.”

He said If he gets nominated he will resign from SHRC, “because I would understand, and do understand, that would be direct conflict of interest.”

A member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat community, Syed has previously served on the boards of the Saskatchewan Police Commission, and currently serves as a member of the CN community board, according to a news release issued by the province in January.

Syed was born and raised in Pakistan. He has been an entrepreneur in the import-export business.

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