Kaycee Madu is back in Jason Kenney’s cabinet, but not as justice minister after a third-party report was completed into his phone call to Edmonton’s police chief following a traffic ticket.
Madu was appointed minister of labour and immigration Friday. He was forced to step aside from his justice department duties while retired justice Adèle Kent investigated the incident.
Kent’s report, submitted to the government last week and publicly released Friday, said that while Madu tried to interfere in the administration of justice when he called Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee after receiving a traffic ticket, he was unsuccessful, and his “call created a reasonable perception of an interference with the administration of justice.”
Former health minister Tyler Shandro is now the province’s justice minister after serving for about five months as labour and immigration minister. The shuffle comes as the Law Society of Alberta prepares to hold a hearing into Shandro’s conduct as health minister following three complaints that Shandro’s behaviour broke the society’s code of conduct.
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Kent wrote that there is a process to deal with traffic tickets and with any concerns about police behaviour, but calling the police chief directly is not an option.
“The very fact that the purpose of the call was to obtain assurance that the police were acting properly rather than going through appropriate channels is an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice,” the report said.
Kent’s report said that Madu was pulled over after an Edmonton police constable observed Madu looking down at a cellphone screen, but when he spoke with Madu, Madu was not holding a cellphone and denied using it.
“He was moderately argumentative. The driver then asked whether the constable knew who he was. The driver said that he was the minister of justice and that he would never do anything to break the law. He said he was the minister of justice three or four times during the discussion at the window,” the report said, adding that the constable did not believe Madu was trying to get out of the ticket.
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Kent wrote that Madu told her he only recalled that he mentioned his position once.
Madu paid the ticket and has previously said that when he spoke to McFee he did not ask for the ticket to be rescinded, but raised concerns about racial profiling and said he wanted to ensure he wasn’t being “unlawfully surveilled” following a controversy surrounding the Lethbridge Police Service.
In McFee’s account of the phone call included in the report, he noted Madu seemed “concerned” and “frustrated” and raised the issues of potential racial profiling and the Lethbridge police service.
In a Friday statement, Kenney thanked Kent and both Shandro and Madu for their continued public service.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley said in a statement Madu should be fired from cabinet for attempting to interfere with justice.
“For Jason Kenney to allow him to stroll down the hall into another ministry and continue to sit as part of the province’s executive council is unforgivable,” she said.
“This is utter contempt for the rule of law in Alberta.”