SASKATOON -- It took the Saskatchewan Party just one day to appoint a new candidate for Saskatoon-Eastview, after its original candidate stepped down in the wake of controversial social media posts.

On Oct. 4, the Sask. Party named Chris Guérette as the replacement candidate for Daryl Cooper.

“I am excited to join the Saskatchewan Party team and start talking to voters about our plan for a strong Saskatchewan,” Guérette said in a news release. “Over the first week of the campaign, Premier Scott Moe has announced a number of new ideas to continue Saskatchewan’s strong recovery from the pandemic and make life more affordable for Saskatchewan people. It’s a great plan and I can’t wait to start my campaign.”

Ousted candidate’s social media activity came after vetting process: Moe

Following the introduction of the Sask. Party’s candidate, Moe told reporters about his party’s thorough vetting process when it comes to selecting candidates for the Oct. 26 election. Moe said Cooper’s controversial social media activity, where he shared conspiracy theories around the origin of COVID-19, happened after the vetting period.

“The posts we’re aware of were made after the vetting process was complete, when the expectations were on the individuals as candidates to conduct themselves per the expectations the party has,” Moe said. “We have expectations and when we learn that those expectations are not being met, this is a party that takes very swift and appropriate action, and I think that’s the expectation all political parties should have and do have on themselves.”

Moe said the QAnon conspiracy theory, which alleges a group of powerful individuals across the globe are orchestrating a global child sex-trafficking ring, has no place in Saskatchewan politics.

“I would condemn the views of this and we should not in any way share or promote these views in this province,” he said.

Following her appointment, Guerette said she plans to spend many hours knocking on doors in the Saskatoon Eastview constituency to gain the trust of voters over the next 22 days.

“Elections are not won on social media, they’re won on the doorstep. I still have 22 days to gain the trust of constituents and that’s where I’m going to be spending my time,” she said.

In a news release the Saskatoon and Region Home Builders' Association said Guérette will continue working for the association at a significantly reduced capacity for the next three weeks to ensure a transition with the team. Should Guérette be successful in her efforts on election night, Oct. 26, she will be resigning and assisting the board with the transition to new leadership.

An SRHBA spokesperson said the association is non-partisan and also does not support any one candidate over another.

Guérette joined the SRHBA in 2016.

Cooper says he doesn’t support QAnon beliefs, says voters have been denied opportunity to vote for him

On Sunday, Cooper issued a media release addressing that he does not support or is a member of internet groups such as QAnon, and he does not subscribe or support conspiracy theories they advance.

“Reading a post, or even sometimes clicking the “like” button does not signify support for, or agreement with, every word and every position held by the account holders while not participating in discussions,” Cooper said in a media release.

He added his choice to resign came not because he did anything wrong, but because he did not want to become a distraction in the debate about the important issues facing Saskatchewan. But, after winning his nomination for Saskatoon Eastview, he said voters have been denied the option for voting him as their MLA.

“These voters have been denied the opportunity to have this option. Similarly, in Regina Walsh Acres, voters were abruptly denied the option of selecting Sandra Morin as the candidate for the New Democratic Party,” Cooper said.

“Our political culture has denied the voters in both Saskatoon-Eastview and Regina Walsh Acres the ability to consider a serious and competent candidate democratically chosen by the membership of the political party in that constituency.”