Kaycee Madu, Alberta’s Minister of Labor and Immigration, sparked a firestorm on Tuesday afternoon when he thanked ‘freedom convoys’ for their fight against ‘tyrannical’ federal COVID restrictions -19 which will soon be relaxed.
He added that Ottawa’s vaccination rules for international travel have never been “a matter of science but of political control and power”.
The Alberta NDP has called on Premier Jason Kenney to remove Madu from cabinet.
“Frankly, this is a new low for this minister,” justice spokesman Irfan Sabir told CTV News Edmonton. “Essentially he thanks the people of the Freedom Convoy who were responsible for a lot of anarchy in this country.”
“These comments go way over the line. They are disrespectful to so many Albertans who have fallen ill, who have lost loved ones, who have lost their jobs and their businesses.”
Protesters from the convoy flooded the streets of Ottawa for several weeks and blocked international borders in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. Four men have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder after being arrested at the Alberta blockade in February.
“I believe the restrictions that existed at the federal level were based on the advice the federal government was getting from their health experts,” Sabir said.
Madu served as Alberta’s justice minister until he was forced to take “leave of absence” from his post in January. During a COVID-19 update on May 5, 2021, he said Albertans must follow provincial restrictions.
“I expect law enforcement and the prosecution service to deploy all the tools at their disposal to ensure public health orders are enforced,” Madu said, in a statement. video shared on Tuesday by journalist Catherine Griwkowsky.
‘HE WILL NOT WIN HIS SEAT’: BRATT
Madu’s comments are now “inflammatory,” a Calgary-based political scientist said, adding that his statement puts the UCP government in a difficult position after imposing its own COVID-19 rules.
“Did he support the provincial COVID restrictions? Or were the provincial COVID restrictions about science and not political control? After all, he was a member of that cabinet. He’s still a member of that cabinet” , said Duane Bratt of Mount Royal University.
Madu has been a “lightning rod” for controversy since being elected in Edmonton Southwest in 2019, Bratt added.
In May last year, Madu apologized for saying that the opposition NDP and federal Liberals, as well as the media, wanted the province’s health care system to collapse because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, a retired judge discovered that Madu had tried to “meddle in the administration of justice” over a distracted driving ticket. Kenney removed him as attorney general and immediately named him head of labor and immigration.
“He won’t win his seat in Edmonton, the UCP won’t win a seat in Edmonton,” Bratt predicted.
Madu’s comments could also hurt the UCP in other moderate ridings in Alberta, political scientist Lori Williams believes.
“This is a very extreme position for Kaycee Madu and one that could jeopardize the future electoral fortunes of the UCP,” she told CTV News Edmonton.
Madu is publicly supporting Danielle Smith in the ongoing UCP leadership race. She promised “to prohibit the confinements and the discrimination of the vaccines”.
“If Danielle Smith were to become prime minister, (Madu) would be kept in cabinet and probably elevated. If Travis Toews, or let’s say Rebecca Schulz, becomes the next prime minister, I think it’s harder to keep Kaycee Madu in firm.” Williams said.
Online reaction to Madu’s tweet was swift and largely critical:
CTV News Edmonton contacted the Premier’s Office about Madu’s comments and also requested an interview with Madu.