'Disconnected from the facts': Former Alberta justice minister tells law society tribunal he was unfairly ticketed

Madu said the report into his traffic ticket and subsequent call to Edmonton’s police chief was ‘disconnected from the facts’ and cost him his seat in the May 2023 election

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Former Alberta justice minister Kaycee Madu told a law society tribunal that he was unfairly ticketed for distracted driving and denied using his job title in an effort to escape the fine.

Madu resumed testifying early Wednesday at the Law Society of Alberta hearing into whether he undermined respect for the administration of justice when he phoned Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee shortly after receiving the ticket in March 2021.

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The call came about 20 minutes after he had been ticketed for distracted driving near a southwest Edmonton school.

Tuesday morning, the ticketing officer testified he saw Madu use an iPhone while driving through a school zone and that he referenced his job as justice minister four times during their conversation.

“I observed his face to be looking down and to the right towards that cellphone,” said EPS Const. Ryan Brooks whose notes from the traffic stop reflected the four references to being justice minister.

Later Tuesday, Madu denied that version of events and said he only referenced his job title to clarify he worked for the government after producing his vehicle’s fleet card, which serves as proof of insurance for government vehicles.

“I said, ‘by the way, I’m the minister of justice,’” Madu said, adding the remark came near the end of his interaction with Brooks. “I said that because he didn’t believe the insurance, that the fleet card, I gave him was real. He didn’t understand what it was.

“That was me trying to assure him that that fleet card was real. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.”

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He denied Brooks’ testimony that he had used his title as minister to imply he wouldn’t have committed such an offence.

“I couldn’t have said that to him.”

Initially planned to fight the ticket

Madu described the interaction with Brooks as “cordial” and said after he had taken the ticket, he drove to a nearby Superstore parking lot and called McFee.

His lawyer, Perry Mack, argued the call came within the context of Madu’s work as justice minister on the issue of carding and amid concerns over police surveillance of politicians as in the case of New Democrat MLA Shannon Phillips in Lethbridge.

“In my mind, I was like, this all is the same concerns, the same complaint I have been hearing,” Madu said.

He said he initially planned to fight the ticket but reconsidered and paid the $309 fine two days after being stopped.

Madu, who held a press conference on the Lethbridge police issue later that morning, said he had three phones in his Ford F-150 truck when he was pulled over: a personal phone, a legislative assembly phone, and a cabinet phone.

Mack produced the records for each of those devices and said they showed none of the phones were in use around when Madu was pulled over.

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Madu detailed how he was shuffled out of his job as justice minister following the release of retired justice Adèle Kent’s report into the incident, which found he had unsuccessfully tried to interfere in the administration of justice but nonetheless had created “a reasonable perception” of interference.

He told the tribunal that he strongly disagreed with those findings.

“To say I was shocked would be an understatement,” Madu said of the Kent report. “She completely ignored the context … and what I said to her about the state of my mind and the reason why I made a call in the first place.”

“It would suggest to me, with all due respect to Justice Kent, her conclusions were disconnected from the facts.”

He said that report also contributed to his defeat in Edmonton-South West in the May 2023 provincial election, when he came up around 3,600 votes short against New Democrat challenger Nathan Ip.

“The report from Justice Kent, the media storm, and the complaint had (an) impact,” he said, adding he heard about the report while door-knocking in his riding during the election campaign.

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Since his electoral defeat, Madu has returned to practising as a lawyer where he is a sole practitioner.

He is expected to continue testifying Wednesday morning with the hearing slated to conclude later that afternoon.

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