Kaycee Madu says he called EPS chief after traffic ticket for 'assurance' he wasn't profiled

Former Alberta justice minister Kaycee Madu says he called Edmonton's police chief minutes after getting a traffic ticket because he was concerned about racial profiling and improper surveillance.

A three-day Law Society of Alberta hearing finished Wednesday after Madu answered questions about a 2021 traffic stop and phone call that has him facing the possibility of professional discipline as a lawyer.

Madu's lawyer, Perry Mack, called the proceedings an "astonishing" exercise in combing over Madu's actions and second-guessing his approach.

"This 10-minute traffic stop and this eight-minute telephone call, which amounted to a whole lot of nothing … has been turned by the law society into some form of assault by [Madu] upon the justice system," he said.

"With great respect, it should never have got this far, but here we are."

Law society counsel Ken McEwan argued that Madu's actions undermine public respect for the administration of justice, especially given his position of power in the public eye at the time.

"The response signals to the public that the minister of justice may be privileged to have special procedures in relation to a ticket that has been issued to him," he said.

"There is little comfort in the fact that the respondent did not explicitly seek to have the traffic ticket cancelled. The harm is done nonetheless."

A three-member hearing panel will now assess the case and decide whether to dismiss the citation against Madu or impose a penalty like a reprimand, fine or suspension. It's unclear when the decision will be issued.

Madu: 'I was looking for assurance'

Madu was the UCP government justice minister on March 10, 2021, when an Edmonton Police Service officer pulled him over in a school zone and issued a $300 distracted driving ticket.

The former Edmonton-South West MLA testified that during that period, he was in the midst of extensive work to introduce legislation banning arbitrary police stops, known as carding. Madu said that as the first Black justice minister in Canada, people from racialized communities across the province were regularly sharing their concerns with him about police interactions.

Madu said that was on his mind when he pulled into a nearby supermarket parking lot and dialed EPS Chief Dale McFee's number.

"I have been hearing from folks from my community, from my constituents in town halls, in emails to my office, phone calls to my office, complaining about being stopped for no cause, without reason," Madu said.

"I said, 'Guess what? I have just experienced that. … I have just been traffic stopped by one of your men and accused of being on my phone when I was not on my phone.'"

That same day, he was also preparing to speak to media about new revelations that Lethbridge police officers had improperly surveilled NDP MLA Shannon Phillips while she was a cabinet minister.

"Given the circumstances I was dealing with, I was looking for assurance that I had not been profiled as a Black person, and I had not been dealt the same fate as Shannon Phillips with the Lethbridge Police Service," he said.

Madu didn't attempt to dispute the ticket or make a complaint against the officer. Mack told the hearing that the issue of profiling is relevant context, but he's not suggesting any wrongdoing by the officer.

Madu, EPS officer detail traffic stop

EPS Const. Ryan Brooks, the officer who issued the ticket, told the hearing that Madu drove past him holding an iPhone and looking toward the screen.

Madu said that's impossible because his two work phones were in his bag and his personal cellphone was in his suit pocket with a winter jacket zipped up over it.

Brooks said he had no idea who Madu was when he pulled him over, and he didn't recognize his name. But he noticed the vehicle was registered to the Alberta government after the stop, when he ran a standard information check on the licence plate.

He testified that Madu insisted he hadn't used his phone while driving.

"Something to the effect of, 'I would never do that. I would never be on my phone while driving because I'm the minister of justice, or a political figure.'"

Brooks took notes, which he said he wrote while he was filling out the ticket information. The notes say Madu referenced being the minister of justice "at least four times."

Madu disagreed, telling the hearing he mentioned his government position only once, after taking the ticket, to explain why his government fleet vehicle insurance didn't look like a typical insurance card.

Brooks also detailed the events of the stop in an email later that day after a request from a senior officer.

The incident wasn't publicly known until CBC reported on it almost a year later. It prompted former premier Jason Kenney to call retired Court of King's Bench justice Adele Kent to investigate.

Madu was moved from the justice portfolio to labour and immigration after Kent's report found the minister had attempted to interfere with the administration of justice, and the phone call created a reasonable perception of interference.

After Danielle Smith became premier in 2022, she named Madu one of her deputy premiers, and he became the minister of skilled trades and professions.

He's now out of government after losing his seat in the 2023 election.