The new Minister of Justice in Alberta — the first Black politician in Canada to hold such a position — says that while he sympathizes with those who are protesting for social justice reforms, he “absolutely” decries calls to defund the police and is pained when he sees acts of vandalism such as tearing down monuments of those who helped found this country.
“I understand the concerns that people have,” says Kaycee Madu, who was promoted to Justice Minister, from his previous post of Minister of Municipal Affairs, in August. He says he is “particularly pained” by the tearing down of the statue of Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A Macdonald, in Montreal this past weekend.
“No leader is perfect and tearing down statues of our founding fathers is not going to solve any problems.” Says Madu — who replaces Calgary-Elbow MLA Doug Schweitzer, who was moved to a newly rebranded Jobs, Economy and Innovation Portfolio. He says his “historic” appointment as justice minister comes at an important time, when Black and other minority communities are leading a fight against systemic racism.
“I do think that in the midst of all this, I am privileged to live in one of the freest countries, and provinces, in the world.” However, there is a need to continue to make reforms even better and to “address concerns from those communities,” he says.
“We must continue to live true to the creed of our founding fathers,” Madu says. While coming from a different time in history, “they had the vision to build a world and a society in which it doesn’t matter where you come from, and that justice is available to every single Canadian.”
Madu, who was born in Nigeria and came to Canada in 2005, says the argument made by some anti-racism protesters to defund police forces as an approach to reforming justice is simply wrong.
“I do not think that any sane, balanced-minded person would want to take away resources from the police when there are safety issues that law enforcement needs to tackle.” He adds that while there are always “bad apples” in any profession, the men and women who join the police forces “take on enormous risk” to keep communities safe. “Defunding police is something that I absolutely oppose,” he says. “It is not going to help us get to the promised land or build a more . . . perfect nation.”
Those calling for police defunding — including those in the Black Lives Matter movement — say that reallocating money from police departments into other services, such as mental health, is a better approach, and some suggest defunding police entirely.