Premier Jason Kenney refused to comment on an Alberta cabinet minister’s controversial tweet thanking so-called “freedom convoys.”
Labour Minister Kaycee Madu took to social media on Tuesday evening after news broke about Canada’s plans to drop COVID-19 vaccination requirements at the border.
“It never was about science but about political control and power,” Madu tweeted.
“Thanks to all those citizens, freedom convoys, who had the courage to mobilize against these tyrannical policies. They endured a lot hate, name calling, suffered and vilified on behalf of all of us. I thank them!”
The tweet stirred up some controversy, with many criticizing the minister for his words.
So far, Kenney has refused to comment on Madu’s tweet, claiming he doesn’t follow what is happening on the social media platform.
“I actually don’t monitor Twitter,” he told reporters in Toronto on Wednesday at a news conference about the “Alberta is Calling” campaign.
“If you want to hear Minister Madu’s views or a clarification from him, I suggest you talk to him.”
Kenney also accused reporters of being “fight promoters” at another unrelated news conference on Wednesday, refusing to answer off-topic questions even though he has done so before.
“I know for some of you in the media, your job when it comes to politics is to be fight promotors. My job is to be a job promoter,” Kenney said.
Randy Fulton, one of Madu’s constituents in southwest Edmonton, called the minister’s tweet “foolish.”
“(The protestors) think somebody has to go to bat for them. The issues that they created were of their own making. Nobody asked them to do this,” Fulton said.
“(The protest) was asinine — and for Madu to come out and side with them is foolish on his part because it was a few that was creating a situation for many and that’s not right.”
Fulton also said the minister’s decisions have an impact on his riding.
“We are the voters in his riding. Whether we agree with him or not, he makes (the decisions) and we buy them. It may come back to haunt him at some point in time,” Fulton said.
“There’s an election coming up and time will tell.”
Others pointed out that Madu was a high-level minister in government throughout Alberta’s COVID-19 response that saw mandates and lockdowns.
As justice minister in May 2021, Madu, who is also a lawyer, told reporters that while he doesn’t direct police and prosecutors, “it is my expectation that law enforcement and the Crown Prosecution Service will deploy all tools available to them to ensure that the (COVID) public health orders are enforced.”
Duane Bratt, a political scientist with Mount Royal University, also questioned Madu’s motive behind the tweets.
Madu endorsed United Conservative Party leadership candidate Danielle Smith, who has promised to reject any COVID-19 public health restrictions.
“(Madu’s) not just a former justice minister, he’s still in cabinet and was in cabinet throughout COVID,” Bratt told Global News on Tuesday evening.
“Were the federal COVID restrictions about political control and not about science? What about the provincial restrictions that he was a part of? Were those for political control and not about science?
“I think this is less about caucus than it is about the UCP leadership race. He has endorsed Danielle Smith.”
Global News reached out to Madu’s office for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication. This story will be updated if one is received.
— With files from Demi Knight, Global News and Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press