News

Braid: In a weird shuffle, ministers with problems replace each other


It’s no secret that both Madu and Shandro are enthusiastic supporters of Kenney as he heads for that leadership review on April 9.

Article content

Was there ever a stranger or more dubious cabinet shuffle in Alberta?

Advertisement

Article content

Not likely. Maybe that’s why Premier Jason Kenney chose Friday at 3:16 p.m. to make the announcement.

Kenney switched out a justice minister who tried to interfere with the administration of justice, and replaced him with another minister who’s under scrutiny by the Law Society of Alberta after three complaints that he violated the lawyers’ code of conduct.

The head-spinning facts go straight to the question of how ministers should and should not behave, especially when they’re lawyers in charge of the province’s justice system.

Kenney announced that Kaycee Madu, who had been suspended with full pay from Justice while under investigation, would become minister of labour and immigration.

He replaced Madu in Justice with Tyler Shandro, the controversial former health minister who was shifted to Labour and Immigration, safely out of the spotlight.

Advertisement

Article content

It’s no secret that both Madu and Shandro are enthusiastic supporters of Kenney as he heads for that leadership review on April 9.

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Labour and Immigration, speaks to reporters at the inaugural Premier’s Summit on Fairness for Newcomers at the Telus Convention Centre. Wednesday, February 16, 2022.
Tyler Shandro, Minister of Labour and Immigration, speaks to reporters at the inaugural Premier’s Summit on Fairness for Newcomers at the Telus Convention Centre. Wednesday, February 16, 2022. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Madu phoned the Edmonton police chief after he got a $300 ticket for distracted driving in a school zone on March 10, 2021. This remained a deep government secret until last month, when CBC broke the story.

Kenney suspended Madu and asked retired justice Adèle Kent to investigate. Her report was released Friday.

The premier described Kent’s findings this way: “The report concludes that Minister Madu did not interfere in the administration of justice but that the phone call could create a reasonable perception of interference.”

That’s correct as far as it goes. But the premier omits Kent’s most important point.

Advertisement

Article content

She wrote: “Did Minister Madu attempt to interfere with the administration of justice? He did.”

“The Minister said that the call was not about the ticket but the ticket was the trigger. He said that he was looking for assurance from the Chief that the traffic stop was not motivated by illegal surveillance or racial profiling.

“The logical next step would mean that he expected the Chief to respond to his concerns about his ticket. There is a process that the Minister knows well to address questions of police conduct. It does not start with a phone call to the Chief of Police.

“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.”

Advertisement

Article content

That’s a serious breach of a justice minister’s duties. Only by failing to acknowledge Kent’s key point can Kenney justify keeping Madu in any cabinet role.

Kent also said Madu’s anger over his suspicions of racial profiling “deserves recognition,” but “it does not absolve the minister from responsibility.”

Edmonton Chief Dale McFee called many top-level people to advise them of Madu’s call, in case it came up later. Word of his exchange with the minister went around the Alberta legislature like wildfire.

As I’ve written before, the top government people who quickly knew about and discussed the call last March included Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon; Pam Livingston, Kenney’s chief of staff currently on leave to run his leadership drive; Larry Kaumeyer, then Kenney’s chief; and issues manager Matt Wolf. (Kaumeyer and Wolf have since left government.)

Advertisement

Article content

It was immediately understood that the call was dubious at best. Kenney now says it was reason for Madu not to be in Justice any longer. But none of that happened until the story became public.

Shandro comes into Justice under his own cloud.

He is alleged to have confronted a doctor outside the doctor’s house over a social media comment the minister didn’t like. Shandro is also said to have called another doctor with a phone number acquired from AHS. The law society has received three complaints and will conduct a hearing.

Shandro hasn’t been found in violation of any code. But the cases were widely publicized. He hardly seems like an ideal replacement for Madu, given the bizarre circumstances in both cases.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Calgary Herald.

Twitter: @DonBraid

Facebook: Don Braid Politics

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.




Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

close