Alberta announces investigator, terms for inquiry into suspended justice minister
Solicitor General Kaycee Madu called Edmonton police chief after a distracted driving ticket
Alberta's premier's office has designated an investigator and set out terms of reference for their investigation into whether the justice minister's phone call to Edmonton's police chief about a personal traffic ticket constituted interference.
Kaycee Madu has been stripped of that role and its duties while the investigation is conducted by Adèle Kent, a retired Court of Queen's Bench justice.
The inquiry comes after Madu phoned Chief Dale McFee last March to discuss the circumstances of a traffic ticket he'd received for distracted driving in a school zone.
The premier's office says the investigation will determine whether the call "constituted interference or an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice."
Kent has been tasked with considering both the "content and context" of Madu's call to the chief to determine whether there was interference in the administration of justice or a reasonable perception of interference.
Both Madu and the chief say there was no request to quash the ticket, and the minister was concerned he may have been racially or politically targeted.
They said the call about the fine centred on racial profiling and ongoing issues related to surveillance carried out by members of the Lethbridge Police Service on NDP MLA Shannon Phillips during her time as environment minister.
Madu denies being on his cell phone
Madu has denied being on his cellphone while driving, contrary to the details included on the traffic ticket — and has also said he regrets raising the ticket with the chief.
Kent will report her findings to the government by Feb. 15, and the premier's office has committed to making the results public, though no release date has been specified.
"I think given the issues that have been raised, it is appropriate to allow for a little bit of time for an investigation from somebody with legal training who is impartial to provide me with advice on whether this constituted an effort to interfere with the independent administration of justice," Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday.
In a statement issued Monday, Kenney's office clarified that while the premier was aware of Madu's ticket last year, he was not aware of the call until last week. They added that Madu is not attending cabinet meetings or receiving his ministerial pay while the investigation is being carried out.
As investigator, Kent will be allowed access to documents and records relevant to the incident and can interview those with information about the ticket.
"Minister Madu will provide the investigator with his full cooperation and assistance in the investigation," the statement from Kenney's office said.
Kent retired last summer after decades as a judge, including work as the executive director of the National Judicial Institute.