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Premier asks Alberta justice minister to step aside for phoning police chief about ticket

Last Updated Jan 18, 2022 at 6:47 pm MDT

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has asked Justice Minister Kaycee Madu to step back from his ministerial duties over reports he contacted Edmonton’s police chief because of a traffic ticket.

Kenney, who has called for an independent review, says Minister Sonya Savage will step in as acting justice minister and solicitor general.

Madu issued a statement Monday evening, explaining the phone call, saying he regrets it and that he called because he wanted to be sure that he wasn’t being unlawfully surveilled. Madu also raised concerns about racial profiling.

“Chief McFee assured me that that was most definitely not the case, and I accepted him at his word,” Madu’s statement reads in part. “To be abundantly clear, at no point did I request that the ticket be rescinded. I would never do that. However, in that particular call, I regret raising the issue at all with the (sic) Chief McFee.”

The development comes on the heels of Alberta’s Opposition calling for Madu to resign as justice minister over the controversy.

NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir says, regardless of intent, it’s an abuse of power for any cabinet minister, let alone the justice minister, to interfere in the judicial process regarding a personal matter.

The Edmonton Police Service says Madu phoned Chief Dale McFee shortly after he was ticketed for distracted driving in March 2021.

The service says in a statement that Madu had concerns about the traffic stop but did not ask the chief to waive the ticket.

Police say the ticket was issued correctly and remains valid.

In his statement Monday, Madu described being pulled over, saying he was stopped by an officer shortly after leaving home.

“The officer indicated that he had observed me driving while distracted, alleging that I was on my phone,” his statement explains. “I disagreed, stating that I was not on my phone, as it was in an inside pocket.”

Despite refuting the claims that he was using his phone while driving, Madu says he “paid the ticket fully and promptly.”