Suspended Alberta cabinet minister Kaycee Madu says he did not phone Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee to get a distracted driving ticket cancelled.
JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Kaycee Madu says he understands why Alberta Premier Jason Kenney relieved him as justice minister after Mr. Madu phoned Edmonton’s police chief about a traffic ticket.
Mr. Madu says he did not phone Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee to get the $300 distracted-driving ticket cancelled, but understands why people could have concerns about the call.
“With hindsight now I can see how that may be perceived,” Mr. Madu wrote in a series of tweets late Tuesday.
STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“There is a saying that perception is everything in politics and I regret raising the issue at all with Chief McFee.
“I paid the ticket fully and promptly.”
Edmonton police have verified that Mr. Madu never asked for his ticket to be cancelled.
The March 10 ticket and the subsequent phone call came to light in a CBC report on Monday. Mr. Kenney announced that night on social media that he had suspended Mr. Madu from his justice duties pending an investigation.
Mr. Kenney said the investigation by an independent third party would determine “whether there was interference in the administration of justice.”
It’s not clear if Mr. Madu remains in cabinet as a minister without portfolio or is now part of the United Conservative caucus backbench.
Justin Brattinga, Mr. Kenney’s spokesman, did not respond to an e-mail request for clarification on Mr. Madu’s status or for an update on the investigation. He also did not respond to e-mails Tuesday asking when Mr. Kenney and his advisers were first made aware of Mr. Madu’s phone call to the chief.
Mr. Kenney and Mr. Madu have not spoken or taken questions publicly on the matter.
Critics, including Opposition NDP member Irfan Sabir, say it’s clear Mr. Madu abused his political authority just by picking up the phone to call Mr. McFee.
Mr. Sabir said Mr. Madu should be fired as justice minister and said Mr. Kenney needs to take questions on who knew what and when.
“[Madu] is tweeting at 10:30 at night because he doesn’t want to answer questions about his stories and what the Premier and his cabinet colleagues were first informed about it,” Mr. Sabir said Wednesday.
“We need to know who knew and why did no one do anything. Why is this coming out after 10 months?
“If anyone knew and did nothing, what does that really say about the government?”
Former UCP legislature member Drew Barnes said Mr. Kenney’s decision to leave Mr. Madu in limbo is in stark contrast to other cabinet and caucus members, including himself, who were forced out after challenging Mr. Kenney’s policies and leadership.
“It clearly shows the level of favouritism and cronyism under which the Kenney government operates,” said Mr. Barnes, who now sits as an Independent in the house.
“Here’s a cabinet minister that clearly broke a long-standing principle of Westminster democracies all over the world and should have been immediately removed from cabinet for that.”
Mr. Madu, in his tweet string, reiterated that he phoned the chief to seek assurances that he wasn’t being targeted by police because he is Black or because he is in a high-profile government position. He said Mr. McFee told him that was not the case.
Mr. Madu also took issue with the circumstances surrounding the ticket. He said while he was ticketed for driving while on his phone, his phone was in a pocket inside his jacket.
Both Mr. Barnes and Mr. Sabir questioned what the investigation will be looking into given that both Mr. Madu and Mr. McFee agree on the salient facts.