A photo of Alberta Labour Minister Kaycee Madu.
Alberta Labour Minister Kaycee Madu. Credit: Alberta Newsroom / Flickr Credit: Alberta Newsroom / Flickr

You’ve got to hand it to Kaycee Madu, the only United Conservative Party (UCP) MLA in Edmonton and for a little while at least Alberta’s minister of labour, the man’s got no shame.

Call it what you will, brass, cheek, gall or chutzpah, he’s got no shortage of the stuff! 

Tuesday, loudly making his support for UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith known to all on social media, Madu caused jaws to drop all over Alberta with his Twitter declaration of “thanks to all those citizens, freedom convoys, who had the courage to mobilize against these tyrannical policies.”

“They endured a lot hate, name calling, suffered and vilified on behalf of all of us,” his tweet continued. “I thank them!”

While Madu apparently had the Trudeau Government’s ArriveCAN smartphone app in mind, the “tyrannical” policies he mentioned also included the half-hearted public health measures implemented by Jason Kenney’s cabinet, in which he served throughout the pandemic.

They were regularly denounced by the Q-adjacent Ms. Smith, the quack-COVID-cure enthusiast who is now the frontrunner to replace Kenney and lead the UCP when the party vote results are announced on October 6.

As for the “freedom convoys” Madu referenced, they included the U.S. border blockade at Coutts in January and February 2022, when he was Alberta’s justice minister, which resulted in several participants being charged with plotting to murder RCMP officers.

Surely it’s not a good look for even a former UCP justice minister to be thanking such characters for their war against policies he himself not so long ago endorsed in cabinet and public!

But that was then and this is now. Anyway, we don’t really do irony out here in Wild Rose Country. 

One gets the impression Madu isn’t even mildly discomfited by this glaring contradiction, any more than he seemed to be when he got caught that same February asking the chief of the Edmonton Police Service a year earlier about a ticket he’d received for distracted driving in a school zone.

That was too much for Kenney, though, who soon shuffled him off to his present portfolio.

Most Parliamentary first ministers would have fired Madu on the spot. 

Instead, playing Parliamentary musical chairs, Kenney made him swap jobs with Tyler Shandro, another catastrophic cabinet minister who like Madu has left a trail of devastation in his wake. 

Now this, which even by the UCP’s standards rather boggles the mind. 

In the wild reaction Madu’s tweet stirred up on social media, opinion seemed to be divided between those who thought he was trying desperately to keep a job in cabinet when Ms. Smith is sworn in as premier – as tout le monde political Alberta now assumes she will be – or merely to get himself a nice sinecure with her government that has the potential to survive the loss of his seat in Edmonton-South West to the NDP in the next general election.

It’s quite possible, of course, that both could be true.

You can count on it that Madu is not the only former Kenney acolyte now scrambling to get into Smith’s good books.

Calgary Sun political columnist Rick Bell, who has a talent for positioning himself adjacent to the Conservative leader most likely to hold power, Tuesday described the “pathetic” pleas of these MLAs to win Ms. Smith’s favour.

“‘You know me,’” Bell quoted them telling him. “‘I didn’t really support Kenney. You thought I supported him but I didn’t agree with him. Not really. It just looked that way. Truth be told, I didn’t even like him. He didn’t listen. It’s not my fault.’ Then … ‘You know Danielle Smith. Can you put in a good word for me?’”

“I’ve seen rats on a sinking ship with more character,” Bell summed them up.

That sounds about right. And that’s why, notwithstanding all the brave predictions by Kenney loyalists up to now, Smith will likely have no problem getting the UCP Caucus to pass her anti-Canadian “Sovereignty Act.”

Of course, this presupposes a government led by Smith can win a provincial election against Opposition Leader and former premier Rachel Notley’s well-funded and disciplined New Democratic Party. 

Tuesday afternoon Smith, understandably enough, was touting her own rather dubious poll, which unsurprisingly suggests a UCP led by her could beat Notley’s NDP in a general election. 

Since at the moment we don’t know what questions were asked, how respondents were chosen, or the methodology used by the Conservative activist outfit that conducted the survey, that remains to be seen.

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...