One of the bigger news stories in Alberta politics this week was the scandal involving Justice Minister Kaycee Madu, who was reprimanded after a CBC report revealed he had spoken to Edmonton's police chief Dale McFee about a traffic violation ticket he received last March.
According to the CBC's report, Madu was issued a $300 ticket for distracted driving in a playground zone. While Madu didn't contest the ticket, the CBC reported documentation that showed the justice minister had personally called Edmonton's top police officer to discuss the fine.
It should go without saying that Madu abused his position of authority in this case. The call was an example of potential political interference and conflict of interest, as policing in general falls under his portfolio as the justice minister.
When reached for comment by the public broadcaster, Madu claimed he did not use the conversation with McFee to try and dispute the ticket, but that wanted to use the conversation to discuss racial profiling with Edmonton's police chief. While that's a noble cause, this wasn't the time or place to do it.
Opposition parties were quick to point out that not everyone would have the luxury or privilege of talking to the highest officer in their city about a common traffic ticket. Madu's phone call showed the disconnect that can exist between everyday tax payers and those in the highest echelons of government.
As of press time, Madu had been asked by Premier Jason Kenney to step back from his cabinet duties. Kenney also said the UCP would launch an independent review of the justice minister's actions. That's probably the least that should occur.
While not in the same realm, the situation with Madu did remind our newsroom of an old New York Post report that celebrity Ellen DeGeneres would personally call late Apple CEO Steve Jobs to complain about issues with her iPhone.