Alberta’s minister of labour and immigration has taken to social media to criticize Ottawa’s “tyrannical” pandemic travel restrictions and thank “freedom convoys” for their efforts against them.
In a tweet responding to news about the federal government potentially ending COVID-19 border requirements, Kaycee Madu said the measure was “never was about science but about political control and power.”
“Thanks to all those citizens, freedom convoys, who had the courage to mobilize against these tyrannical policies,” read the remark on Madu’s Twitter account on Tuesday.
“They endured a lot hate, name calling, suffered and vilified on behalf of all of us. I thank them!” continued the tweet from the former solicitor general and minister of justice.
The comment came after it was reported Tuesday the federal government is leaning toward dropping the vaccine requirement for people entering Canada — ending random COVID-19 testing at airports — and making the use of the ArriveCan app optional by the end of this month.
Such travel restrictions were among the pandemic measures that ignited large protests earlier this year, including those that jammed streets in Ottawa for several weeks and blocked international borders, like at Coutts, Alta.
It never was about science but about political control and power. 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. I thank them! <a href=”https://t.co/E9talumDtW”>https://t.co/E9talumDtW</a>
Four men were charged with conspiring to murder RCMP officers following arrests at Coutts in February.
Alberta protestors also opposed a number of COVID-19 rules introduced in the province, including mask mandates, vaccine requirements, gathering limits and business restrictions. All have since been lifted.
Madu had previously voiced support for at least some of those public health measures.
In May of 2021, Madu posted in the comment section of another user’s Facebook page 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.”
On Wednesday, asked about Madu’s remarks, Premier Jason Kenney said he doesn’t monitor Twitter and suggested that if reporters want to hear the minister’s “views or clarification from him,” they should talk to him.
CBC News called Madu’s press office for further comment.
Kenney said his government was consistently opposed to “unnecessary” federal travel restrictions, specifically the ones implemented in December of last year and are still in place.
However, he stood by the decisions made by his own government.
“Our commitment to Albertans was not to allow our hospitals to be overwhelmed,” Kenney said.
“We did intervene with some difficult decisions at various times to reduce transmission, and we had hard decisions to make, just like every government in every part of the world.”
He said Alberta had the least-restrictive COVID regime in Canada.
While Kenney did not weigh in on Madu’s remarks about the “freedom convoys,” NDP Leader Rachel Notley said they should not be getting thanks from the former UCP justice minister.
“The Coutts blockade was illegal,” she wrote on Twitter.
Lori Williams, a policy studies professor at Mount Royal University, said she was surprised that a former justice minister would make such “cavalier” remarks.
“I was just sort of struck that a former justice minister would champion the activities of people who, some of whom, broke laws, some of whom violated the rights and freedoms of other Canadians,” she said.
“The decisions that are being made are primarily based on on health care.”
Earlier this year, Madu was ejected from his position as Alberta’s justice minister after an investigation found he attempted to interfere with the administration of justice.
An inquiry was launched in January following revelations that Madu had telephoned Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee to discuss a $300 distracted driving ticket he received on March 10, 2021.
Due to the report’s findings. Kenney felt Madu should no longer be justice minister but would remain in cabinet.