EDMONTON—In a column published this week, Alberta’s former justice minister broke news — and maybe cabinet confidence — by saying it was “no secret” that during his tenure at the post, he never supported COVID-19 lockdowns or vaccine passports.
In the seething column where he underscores his support for United Conservative Party leadership candidate Danielle Smith — who has pledged to never lock down again should she become premier — Kaycee Madu also said he was “angry” when he saw pastors arrested during his tenure overseeing the justice file in the province.
“What we saw was the politicization of public health by left-leaning political parties and operators who saw it as an opportunity for their so-called ‘great reset’ (quoting our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau),” wrote Madu in a Western Standard piece published Wednesday, “and radical control that led to unprecedented violations of our citizens’ privacy and fundamental human rights and freedoms.”
“It is no secret that I never supported the lockdowns, vaccine mandates, or the vaccine passport.”
Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University, said this is the first time Madu has spoken publicly about his stance, breaking news but also potentially breaking cabinet confidence in the process.
“In my view, it’s a violation of cabinet confidentiality and cabinet solidarity,” said Bratt, citing the long-standing parliamentary tradition that all in cabinet must publicly stand behind cabinet decisions. “If he was so angry at the time, he should have resigned on a point of principle.”
Madu, a lawyer, was a high-profile cabinet minister when pandemic public-health restrictions were put in place by Premier Jason Kenney’s government. He was also there to announce, in May 2021, that a “small few” of repeat COVID-19 restriction rule-breakers would face harsher enforcement measures.
That announcement came as some church leaders in the province made headlines for defiantly bucking public-health orders around gatherings, along with a “No More Lockdowns” rodeo in central Alberta.
In his column, Madu condemned the arrest of pastors and said he was dismayed to see “places of worship barricaded.”
“We should never have allowed these decisions to happen in Alberta, of all places,” wrote Madu. “The right to religious freedom and, by extension, places of worship is one of the few institutions protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Bratt said the stance now could be Madu simply trying to hitch his wagon to Smith’s UCP leadership campaign, as she’s the perceived front-runner in the race to replace Kenney. Madu also appeared to be echoing conspiracy theories about a “great reset” that come “straight out of the World Economic Forum crap,” said Bratt.
“I’d like to know what the current health minister says, what the current justice minister says, what the premier of Alberta has to say about this,” Bratt said of the column.
Madu’s office declined a request for comment.
In January, Madu took a step back from the justice file after news broke that he had called the Edmonton police chief after receiving a distracted-driving ticket. An investigation into the incident resulted in a finding that while Madu hadn’t actually interfered with the justice system, he had tried to.
Madu now serves as the minister for labour and immigration. His endorsement is one of several from high-profile people that Smith has received as of late.
Nate Glubish, the minister for Service Alberta, has also thrown his support behind Smith after first endorsing former finance minister Travis Toews. Smith is also backed by UCP MLAs Pat Rehn (who also first supported Toews before flipping), Nate Neudorf and Devinder Toor.
Madu also said he supported Smith’s pledge to bring in an Alberta Sovereignty Act which, theoretically, would let the province ignore federal laws it doesn’t like.
One of the act’s architects and other legal experts have said the bill would be unconstitutional, making it likely to be shot down in court.
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