'I do recall': Kenney claims he knew about Madu's ticket, but not the phone call
Alberta's premier allowed that he knew before it was made public that his justice minister got a $300 distracted driving ticket last March, but Jason Kenney said he only learned about the follow-up phone call on Monday.
Kaycee Madu was temporarily removed from his cabinet post on Tuesday, pending an investigation into a call he admitted that he made to Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee following the infraction.
"I do recall at some point last year hearing that Minister Madu had gotten a ticket, had paid for it. I got fully briefed on all of this, including about the call and the details on Monday afternoon following media inquiries," Kenney said at an afternoon pandemic briefing.
The premier has faced criticism from a number of directions for not firing Madu outright, including from inside his own caucus. Kenney defended that decision, and said a member of his staff reached out to McFee to get details of the call.
"If Chief McFee had alleged that he felt this was an interference in the administration of justice, in the independence of the police, or an effort to rescind the ticket, I would have made an immediate decision to remove Mr. Madu from cabinet," he said.
Kenney added that the process of an independent inquiry into the matter has already been started, after he consulted with former justice officials on how best to handle the case.
The premier didn't provide any timelines for when it would be completed, aside from saying that more would be provided "in the near future."
"We have drafted terms of reference, we have contacted respected former members of the judiciary to see if they would have the time to assist with this kind of investigation," Kenney explained.
Madu paid the ticket, but maintained he was not guilty of the infraction that he technically pleaded guilty to.
The Edmonton-South West MLA said he called McFee because he was worried he was being stalked by police or racially profiled.
'DID HE BREAK THE LAW?'
During a public police commission meeting Thursday, McFee was asked if he thought Madu did anything wrong by calling, but the chief wouldn't give a clear answer.
"I think that's the purpose of an inquiry. My views don't really matter here. I think those decisions are for someone independent to make and certainly we have no problem participating in that process," he said.
"There are two things that are going to be considered: Did he break the law? And did he do something that maybe he shouldn't have? I think we need someone independent to do that and Mr. Madu can answer to that stuff."
McFee told reporters that Madu also did not ask for the officer who wrote the ticket to be reprimanded.
"Absolutely not, and I said he didn't ask to have any tickets rescinded. In relation to Mr. Madu, in relation to answering for the reason for having the call, that's for Mr. Madu to answer," the chief told reporters.
"We have spoken to our member. Obviously, he wrote the ticket and the ticket was paid, so he did his job and he did it well."
McFee confirmed that he told the chair of the Edmonton Police Commission about Madu's call at the time, but he didn't tell anyone at the legislature.
"I'm not sure why I would contact the premier. I don't think it's appropriate for me to contact the premier," he said.
McFee was asked if he thought Madu felt comfortable making the call, because McFee once attended a UCP fundraising dinner in Lacombe.
"I went to that dinner with friends. I did not donate and I do not hold membership in any party," he said.
Madu still has not taken questions about the matter. CTV News Edmonton has made a request for him to comment.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Chelan Skulski
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