Justice minister apologizes for COVID-19 ‘disaster’ Facebook remarks

Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu apologized Tuesday for remarks on Facebook accusing Ottawa, the media and the NDP Opposition of wanting a health-care disaster due to surging COVID-19 cases. 

Madu, the United Conservative MLA for Edmonton-South West, issued the apology on Twitter a day after his press secretary told the media that the minister had nothing to be sorry for. 

“I would like to offer an apology for my recent comments on my personal Facebook account,” he wrote.

“Alberta is facing an unprecedented public health crisis. My comments were wrong, as all Canadians want this global pandemic to end as soon as possible.

“I fully support the Premier’s recent call to avoid the divisive political rhetoric during what we all hope is the final period of this pandemic, and will continue the important work of government in protecting Albertans from this virus.”

The apology came a day after Madu’s comments came to light. They were posted last Friday in the comment section of another user’s Facebook page.

Madu wrote that his government needed to impose stricter public health measures or run the risk of leaving Albertans “in field and makeshift hospitals, gasping for breath because we have [run] out of ventilators, manpower etc.”

“My point is that I don’t think it will be responsible to simply wait until we have a disaster on our hands,” he wrote. “That’s what the NDP, the media and the federal Liberals were looking for and want. We simply couldn’t allow that to happen.”

When asked about his minister’s remarks Monday, press secretary Blaise Boehmer doubled down and said Madu wouldn’t apologize for calling out the “overcooked and incendiary rhetoric” of the NDP Opposition. 

‘It’s a shame’

The provincial NDP said the comments from Madu were false. For months, Opposition Leader Rachel Notley and her caucus have said Premier Jason Kenney and his cabinet have not done enough to curb the rise of COVID-19 cases. 

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized Madu for spreading misinformation and using the pandemic to score political points. 

WATCH | Trudeau, Kenney respond to comments from Alberta justice minister

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s “a shame” that Alberta’s justice minister has accused Ottawa, the Opposition and the media of hoping for a worse COVID-19 outcome. 2:10

“It is a shame to see people pointing fingers and laying blame and suggesting that anyone in Canada wants anything else than to get through this pandemic as safely as possible everywhere,” Trudeau said. 

“I think playing politics at this point is just not what Canadians want to see.” 

When asked hours later about his justice minister’s comments, Kenney said he hadn’t seen the Facebook post. He said he would speak to Madu.

“COVID has caused a lot of us various times to say things that we regret,” Kenney said. 

“And I just encourage everybody, whatever side of the political spectrum they’re on to try to give each other a break right now.”

A lawyer by profession, Madu was first elected as the MLA for Edmonton-South West in the April 2019 election. He is the only UCP member of the legislative assembly within the City of Edmonton, which is dominated by the NDP. 

Madu first served as minister of municipal affairs before moving to helm the justice ministry in August 2020. 

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