Amid investigation, Kaycee Madu, Tyler Shandro take on new ministries in Alberta cabinet shuffle

Left, Minister of Labour and Immigration Kaycee Madu, and Right, Justice Minister and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro. Credit: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced several changes to his cabinet on Friday, including adding former Justice Minister Kaycee Madu back into cabinet.

Former Labour and Immigration Minister Tyler Shandro has become the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. Madu will take over Shandro’s old portfolio after being stripped of his duties last month. Minister of Energy Sonya Savage will discontinue her position as acting Justice Minister.

This comes after Kenney stripped Madu of his duties on Jan. 17 after CBC News broke the story that Madu was fined for distracted driving and called Edmonton police chief Dale McFee to discuss the ticket.

It also comes after the Law Society of Alberta launched an investigation into Shandro’s conduct when he was Minister of Health.

Click to play video: 'Alberta justice minister demoted, probe ordered into call to police chief over traffic ticket'
Alberta justice minister demoted, probe ordered into call to police chief over traffic ticket

Both ministers were under investigation

The move comes after an independent review into the phone call was released on Friday. The review, conducted by former Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adèle Kent, found that while Madu did not interfere with the administration of justice, he did attempt to do so.

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The report also concluded that the phone call created a reasonable perception that he did.

According to a copy of the report obtained by Global News, Madu was pulled over by a constable in an unmarked vehicle near the Constable Daniel Woodall School in Edmonton. The constable, who is unnamed in the report, allegedly saw a cellphone in Madu’s hand which prompted him to pull Madu over and issue a distracted driving ticket. Madu denied the allegations, saying the phone was in his pocket and that he was opening the console of his truck.

Madu then identified himself as the province’s minister of justice to the constable and said he would never do anything to break the law. According to the report, Madu said he was the justice minister three or four times throughout his conversation with the constable.

Madu called Edmonton police chief Dale McFee to discuss the ticket shortly after. McFee told Kent that Madu sounded “concerned” and “frustrated” and that the politician raised the possibility that there was racial profiling in relation to the ticket while referencing an incident with the Lethbridge police force involving MLA Shannon Phillips.

McFee responded by saying that he was not going to talk about the ticket and Madu had two choices: pay or go to court. Madu never asked McFee to do anything with the ticket, according to the report.

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Click to play video: 'Kenney reached out to former government and judiciary leaders for advice on Kaycee Madu ticket issue'
Kenney reached out to former government and judiciary leaders for advice on Kaycee Madu ticket issue

“There is nothing about the stop that could lead a reasonable person to conclude that Minister Madu was racially profiled. It was an ordinary day of a police officer doing his work in a school zone,” Kent wrote in the report.

“The allegations of what went on in Lethbridge are disturbing. However, to take from those facts the possibility that police in other police forces in Alberta are doing the same kind of thing is highly speculative.”

Shandro allegedly breached law society code of conduct

Shandro is currently under investigation by the Law Society of Alberta for allegedly breaching the society’s code of conduct when he was health minister.

According to the Law Society, Shandro allegedly attended the private residence of a member of the public and behaved inappropriately. He also allegedly obtained personal cellphone numbers and contacted multiple members of the public outside of regular working hours using that information. Shandro also allegedly threatened to refer a member of the public to authorities if they did not address future correspondence to his office as minister of health.

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Kenney thanks Shandro and Madu while NDP calls for resignation

In response to the independent review of Madu’s actions, Kenney said he concluded that it would be appropriate for Madu to step aside as minister of justice given the findings. He said he asked Shandro to take over that position because he is an experienced lawyer.

“It is clear from the report that his motivation in making the call was not to reverse the ticket but to raise broader concerns, particularly related to racial profiling,” Kenney said in a press release on Friday. “It does not absolve (the) minister from responsibility, but it is an explanation that deserves recognition.”

Kenney also thanked Madu and Shandro for their work as justice minister and labour minister, respectively.

“I would like to thank Minister Madu for his critical work in addressing racism in Alberta’s justice system and for ending police carding in Alberta. I know that he will continue to be a strong advocate for equality of opportunity,” Kenney asked.

“I would like to thank Minister Shandro as well for his work in establishing the Premier’s Summit for Newcomers and for his work in fighting for fairness for newcomers. I am confident that both ministers will continue to work hard to make life better for Albertans.”

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NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir said both Shandro and Madu must be removed from cabinet because of the misconduct allegations they face.

“I think it’s clear that the premier is trying to survive his leadership and (is) not showing leadership by removing Madu (and Shandro) from cabinet. They don’t belong in cabinet,” Sabir said.

–with files from Adam MacVicar, Global News.

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