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The politics of banning books: What role should governments play? – Los Angeles Times

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As a child, I had a very specific taste in novels.

I wanted to read historical fiction about Black girls and stories about challenging authority. I was also drawn to books that my mother forbade me to read.

I was banned from reading J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series because of the use of magic, and Judy Blume’s novel “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” because of its exploration of puberty.

As a fifth-grader, I devoured Blume’s book underneath my covers at night after my parents fell asleep. It took a few more years for me to muster the courage to dig into Harry Potter.

I recently learned that my mom preferred I learn about puberty from a more educational perspective. She did not want me to first engage with menstruation through stories about a preteen girl kissing boys and stuffing cotton balls in her bra.

“There’s no telling what you would have done with that book,” she told me.

She’s not wrong. At 10, I was so enamored with Blume’s book, I stuffed cotton balls in my training bra. (Kissing boys came much later.)

Parents have long been concerned about the books their kids read. And while some are satisfied with just regulating their households, others want to act more broadly — banning books from schools and libraries, ostensibly to protect all children.

When should kids be allowed to explore more mature themes? What role should governments play in approving, or banning, books?

Hello, friends. I’m Erin B. Logan, a reporter for the L.A. Times. Today, we are going to talk about the power of the written word.

Why are people banning books?

Censorship is not new, said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Assn.’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, which closely tracks and catalogs books that are most frequently targeted for removal from library shelves.

Books that top the list often mirror social upheaval in American society.

In the ’80s and ’90s, a conservative “moral panic” led to books about magic and others about puberty and sexuality being banned, Caldwell-Stone said. In recent years, the ALA’s list of most frequently banned books has swelled with tomes exploring LGBTQ issues, racism, anti-racism and police brutality.

The protests following George Floyd’s murder in 2020 led to a wave of anti-racist training in corporate America, generating a conservative backlash that spread beyond the C-suite and into schools and libraries.

Just days before President Trump left office in January, his administration published a federal report promoting “patriotic education,” praising the Founding Fathers and downplaying the American government’s role in slavery. (President Biden disbanded Trump’s 1776 Commission and withdrew the report on his first day in office.)

More than two dozen states have weighed limiting how racism is taught in the classroom and at least eight have banned or limited the teaching of what is purported to be “critical race theory” and critical assessments of U.S. history from schools, despite little evidence of critical race theory being taught in K-12 classrooms. (Critical race theory is a framework legal academics use to study the manifestation of racism in American institutions.)

In June, at the request of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, the state’s education board affirmed that teaching critical race theory violated state standards. In June, New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu approved limits on how teachers can talk about race in the classroom. In the same month in Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill aimed at preventing critical race theory from being taught in the classroom. All of those actions, advocates say, will lead to schools banning books that delve into such subjects.

A Texas state Republican lawmaker who chairs a legislative committee, for example, in October sent several school districts a list of 850 books that did not comply with this new law.

Advocates and scholars say such bans go too far and undermine American principles of open discussion and debate. An essential component of a democratic society is the free exchange of ideas, said Hasan Kwame Jeffries, a historian at Ohio State University.

“We should be teaching the truth,” Jeffries said. “We should not be banning books. We should not be creating this fear among teachers that [teaching the truth] would make little Suzie uncomfortable.”

Why do people think books are dangerous?

Not everyone agrees with Caldwell- Stone or Jeffries, or we wouldn’t be having such a raging debate about books in schools.

Tiffany Justice, a former school board member for a district in Florida and co-founder of Moms for Liberty, believes parents should be more involved in their children’s curriculum. Justice contends that if books in classrooms and school libraries run afoul of state laws, including ones that ban critical race theory and obscenity, parents have the right to demand those books be removed. If those state laws don’t exist, she said, parents could push to create them.

Justice is concerned about the effect of younger children reading books with mature themes — especially in an uncontrolled setting. She said George M. Johnson’s “All Boys Aren’t Blue” — which explores race, sexuality, sexual abuse, consent and statutory rape —was simply too heavy a topic for young children to read without their parents around. The book has been removed from several school libraries, including in Texas, Kansas and Pennsylvania.

“Johnson had every right to write [that book],” said Justice, adding she was sorry for the experience Johnson endured. “But there are lots of ways to teach a child about not encountering some type of sexual trauma in their lives.”

“We don’t need a book from someone’s experience in the library for a child to come across without any explanation,” Justice added. “That’s not a resource.”

The author disagrees with such assessments, saying children can handle such difficult subjects. In an interview with CBS News last month, Johnson said: “The reality is there is no topic that is too heavy for a child who could experience said topic. If a child can experience sexual abuse at the age of 7, a child should understand what sexual abuse looks like.”

The debate over banning books is becoming a popular topic on the campaign trail.

In Virginia, for example, the Republican gubernatorial candidate this last fall turned education, parental control of schools and questions about “Beloved,” a Toni Morrison novel that won the Pulitzer Prize, into a winning campaign strategy. It’s one that Republicans, tapping the angst of parents, are sure to replicate across the country during the 2022 election cycle.

Political analysts say we should expect more of this kind of rhetoric and attacks on the written word.

Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said the strategy is effective and Republicans will likely use it in the midterm elections.

“They’re going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Democrats,” he said.

(Newsletter author digression: It is fascinating that people get so worked up about what’s in a book, but there does not appear to be the same kind of anxiety about what’s on television or the internet. My mom, for one, didn’t care that I was watching “Bad Girls Club” at age 12! That was much raunchier than anything Morrison or Blume ever wrote.)

So, a book discussion?

Is there a better way to assess whether a book should be banned from schools or libraries than to read it? In the spirit of exploring these difficult issues, I’m going to host a Zoom discussion about one of my favorite books — one that is frequently banned — by Laurie Halse Anderson. “Speak” is about a ninth-grader who finds herself shunned by classmates after being sexually assaulted by an upperclassman at a party.

The first 10 people who email me and agree to join our virtual book discussion will get a copy of the book. We’ll give you a few weeks to read it before joining our talk. To join the discussion, contact me at erin.logan@latimes.com. The talk will be recorded and potentially turned into a multimedia project for The Times. (Don’t forget to send me your mailing address. Don’t be shy about sending photos of your pets, either).

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The view from Washington

— On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced $540 million in private investments in Central America as part of the Biden administration’s plan to reduce migration, Noah Bierman reported. The investment will bring the total private commitments in the region to more than $1.2 billion since May, when Harris began soliciting groups to spend money in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

— On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti testified before a congressional panel weighing his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to India. He testified that he never witnessed misconduct alleged by a former police bodyguard who says in a lawsuit that an advisor to the mayor sexually harassed him, Nolan D. McCaskill and Dakota Smith reported.

— On Tuesday, the House voted to hold former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with a special committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, setting the stage for the second possible criminal prosecution of an advisor to former President Trump, Anumita Kaur reported.

— The Supreme Court on Friday allowed a narrow challenge against a Texas law banning most abortions, David G. Savage reported. The law makes abortions illegal after six weeks of pregnancy and authorizes private lawsuits in state courts against anyone who violates it.

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The view from California

— After the Supreme Court declined to block that Texas abortion law, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would push for similar legislation that would empower citizens to file lawsuits to deter the manufacture and sale of assault rifles in the state, Liam Dillon reported. Newsom said the court has effectively endorsed states’ ability to create similar legal mechanisms to safeguard laws from federal court review.

— Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) plans to introduce a bill that would block freeway expansions in underserved communities across California, Liam Dillon and Ben Poston reported. The legislation would prohibit California from funding or permitting highway projects in areas with high rates of pollution and poverty and where residents have suffered negative health effects from living near freeways.

The latest from the campaign trail

— After a failed Republican-led effort to recall Newsom in September, the governor seems poised to glide to reelection. He has socked away $23 million for his reelection campaign, Phil Willon reported. At this point in the last California gubernatorial race, the field of candidates was wide and two debates had been staged. This cycle, Newsom is all but alone on the public stage just six months ahead of the June statewide primary.

That’s it friends! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for updates about my iconic fur-child Kacey. Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting.

Stay in touch

Keep up with breaking news on our Politics page. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

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Until next time, send your comments, suggestions and news tips to politics@latimes.com.

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Politics Briefing: Fate of 24 Sussex subject to consultations between PM, National Capital Commission – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says conversations are continuing with the National Capital Commission about the fate of 24 Sussex Drive, the official residence of the prime minister.

The commission, a federal Crown corporation whose responsibilities include managing official residences, has raised concerns about the state of the property initially built in 1868, and refurbished as an official residence for the prime minister in 1950. There is a history of the residence here.

“We are in consultations. We are assessing our options. And when we will arrive at a decision, we will share it with you,” Mr. Trudeau told a news conference on Friday.

Mr. Trudeau said the government is engaging with the capital commission and other experts to ensure there is a safe and stable environment for “prime ministers current and future” as well as the interests of Canadians.

Mr. Trudeau and his family have been living in Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall instead of 24 Sussex Drive since he led the Liberals to power in 2015.

“We know that 24 Sussex has been neglected by many generations of politicians and prime ministers over the years,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“Unfortunately, it is in a terrible condition.”

The Prime Minister said the property is an important, historic building but there are concerns about safety.

Asked if he would take a decision during this mandate, and whether he was concerned about criticism of renovating the prime minister’s residence and how much it might cost, Mr. Trudeau said he has no intention in living in 24 Sussex Drive regardless of how long he is Prime Minister.

This week, the CEO of the capital commission said, according to The Ottawa Citizen, that he has been stressing the need for repairs at Canada’s official residences, including 24 Sussex Drive, with federal officials.

The residence was listed as being in “critical” condition in a commission report last year, and requiring $36.6-million in work. The Citizen story is here.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

CANADIAN LOAN FOR UKRAINE – Canada will lend Ukraine up to $120-million as Kyiv readies for possible war with Russia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday. Story here.

TRUDEAU VOWS ACTION ON PEOPLE SMUGGLING – Canada is doing all it can stop people smuggling across the U.S. border after a family of four froze to death in a “mind-blowing’ tragedy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. Story here.

CHAMPAGNE TO EXPLAIN MINE ACQUISITION – François-Philippe Champagne, the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, will go before a federal committee as early as next week and answer questions about why Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is allowing the acquisition of Canadian lithium firm Neo Lithium Corp. by a state-owned Chinese mining company without conducting a formal security review.

EXPLANATION FOR CONFUSED STATEMENT – Turmoil and confusion over whether truckers would remain exempt from the vaccine mandate last week stemmed from bureaucrats misinterpreting policy in more than one federal agency – including the one that co-ordinates Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Story here.

HAITI MEETING ON FRIDAY – The U.S. State Department says it is looking forward to a productive meeting today when Central American leaders gather online with Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly to talk about the future of Haiti. Story here. Meanwhile, Canada’s ambassador to Haiti is calling for a politically “inclusive accord” to address a deepening constitutional crisis following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Story here.

SASKATCHEWAN TO REDEPLOY GOVERNMENT WORKERS – The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it is looking at redeploying government employees from other departments to help the health-care system. Story here.

FUNDING FOR FIRST NATIONS OMICRON RESPONSE – Indigenous Services Canada says it will provide $125-million in public-health funding for First Nations to bolster their responses to the Omicron variant. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons has adjourned until Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. ET.

CANADA’S FINANCE MINISTERS TALK – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, also the Finance Minister, is hosting a virtual meeting on Friday with provincial and territorial finance ministers.

THE DECIBEL – . In Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Future of Work reporter Vanmala Subramaniam tells us why the trend of hot-desking is gaining traction now. This is the idea that there are no assigned seats in an office. Instead, an employee books their spot through an app before coming in. Ms. Subramaniam also talks about what workers told her about their experience with hot-desking and how hot-desking will transform post-pandemic office life. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister made a virtual announcement along with Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen, and then held a media availability. The Prime Minister delivered remarks at the opening of a foreign ministers’ meeting on Haiti, hosted by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. And he participated in a virtual celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first black MP.

LEADERS

No schedules provided for party leaders.

OPINION

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how the new-era Senate won’t face its real test until we get our next Conservative government: “The real test of the Senate will come when there’s a change in government, when it’s not necessarily a government with whom the appointees agree, ” said Kathy Brock, a political scientist at Queen’s University who has long taken an interest in the Senate. Until we learn how the Red Chamber performs under those conditions, we won’t really know whether it works at all. In 2014, in the midst of the Senate expenses scandal, Mr. Trudeau expelled all Liberal senators from caucus. After he became Prime Minister, he appointed only independent senators, albeit ones who mostly shared a progressive outlook.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney as the Boris Johnson of Canadian politics:So while some will say Mr. Madu’s intentions weren’t malicious or corrupt, it doesn’t matter. He violated a sacred tenet of government. He may have found other means, or avenues, to have this issue addressed that didn’t involve him picking up the phone and calling the city’s top cop. There is, however, another disturbing aspect to this whole affair: The question of what Mr. Kenney knew, and when he knew it. As mentioned, the incident and phone call happened 10 months ago. According to veteran Alberta columnist Don Braid, it was widely known among members of cabinet and discussed in “jocular” terms. It seems inconceivable that if members of cabinet knew about this, Mr. Kenney didn’t also.”

Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on why real men take paternity leave: “You may have seen a recent picture of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in a classic new-parent pose, holding his infant daughter while also trying to sneak a peek at his laptop. Unfortunately, this nice moment of paternal devotion has been upstaged by a rocking chair. The $1,895 rocking chair was a gift to Mr. Singh’s wife, and he landed in hot water when he tagged the chair-maker in an Instagram post. He’s now said the couple is repaying the cost of the chair, and the NDP is working with the ethics commissioner on a disclosure. The photo has caused quite a flap. If you travel down the devil’s highway that is Twitter, you’ll see a certain amount of fury directed at Mr. Singh and his fancy rocker. I understand the anger: It was a dumb and possibly unethical move. But really I’m just sad, because this was an opportunity for a progressive politician to take a stand on something that is hugely important, which is the need for new dads to loudly and proudly take advantage of paid parental leave.”

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on how a fire has killed Indigenous children again – because poverty burns through the generations: “Let this sobering truth sink in: First Nations children under the age of 10 are 86 times more likely to die in a fire than non-Indigenous children, according to the Ontario Chief Coroner’s Table on Understanding Fire Deaths in First Nations, which released a damning report last year after studying 56 fire deaths in 29 fires across 20 First Nations over the course of 10 years. How many times must we read about government reports, parliamentary committee hearings or new programs that are needed to fund basic fire safety and infrastructure in First Nations communities? How many times must the Assembly of First Nations and territorial political organizations yell from the rooftops about the need to adequately fund fire safety?”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how taming inflation will be much trickier than stimulating the economy: “If you’ve been in the market for a new refrigerator in recent weeks, you’re likely still suffering from sticker shock. Fridge prices were up almost 14 per cent in December, as Canada’s overall inflation rate hit a 30-year high of 4.8 per cent. Everything is suddenly costing more, from that fridge and the groceries you put in it (up 5.7 per cent) to a new car (7.2 per cent more) and the gas (33 per cent) it likely runs on. From home insurance (9.3 per cent) to shelter costs (5.4 per cent), Canadians are forking out more and more of their income just to cover the basics. Some very smart folks insist this nasty spike in prices is a nice problem to have.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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Stewart Muir: How eco-advocates worked B.C. politics – Financial Post

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You can choose ancient trees or you can choose jobs, but only bad people opt for jobs — is the preferred mental construct of anti-forestry campaigners

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Last year noisy blockaders descended on Fairy Creek on the south coast of Vancouver Island to stop loggers they claimed were laying waste to irreplaceable old growth forests. What the public did not see behind all the fireworks was a carefully laid advocacy strategy to burrow into the heart of government decision-making and bring about policies, not based on sound science, that will hurt working British Columbians. Forestry accounts for a third of British Columbia’s exports – triple both the tourism sector and also tech and film combined — and benefits at least 130 First Nations.

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Thanks to freedom of information (FOI) requests, I have been able to piece together the story behind the story.

Responding to incidents such as Fairy Creek, B.C.’s NDP government commissioned a review. The first step was a report calling for a “paradigm shift” to protect old growth forests. Next came a deeper dive by an expert panel that resulted in some shocking news for the forest industry: timber access restrictions that could shutter as many as 20 sawmills and two pulp and paper mills, with up to 18,000 jobs being lost. Industry, First Nations and labour unions were furious. Last week, a financial markets analyst told an industry conference that British Columbia forestry is now seen as “uninvestable” due to the uncertainty.

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Hundreds of pages of documents released under FOI reveal that the supposedly impartial expert panel was, in fact, constituted to exclude nearly all viewpoints except those closely aligned to a single organization, the Sierra Club, which has a longstanding axe to grind with the forest industry. The “Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel” was a joint project of environment minister George Heyman and forest minister Katrine Conroy. Correspondence reveals that it was mostly designed and managed by Heyman, who before becoming an MLA was executive director of Sierra Club BC.

Remarkably, four of the five appointees had strong, unmistakeable connections to the Sierra Club. A government official noted that the panel “does not include the full range of views that would be needed for decision making.” It was known that the panel would deliberately ignore “implications for industry; local community interest; First Nations interests and Indigenous knowledge.”

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When the panel’s makeup was announced, a senior forestry official warned: “At a minimum, to be most effective, this Panel should have been comprised of ministry and external experts, in an equal and balanced collaboration that would most effectively deploy the depth of knowledge possessed by the government’s own staff.” Such advice was not heeded, and the appointees insisted their professional opinions not be questioned. Where the panel did seek outside views, only pressure groups aligned with the Sierra Club were invited.

  1. A forest protector walks up to the trees near Port Renfrew, British Columbia, Canada, on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

    Terence Corcoran: How greens are killing the B.C. forest sector

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    Opinion: Stakeholder capitalism and ESG’s road to socialism

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    William Watson: The new, new, new interventionism

It’s not difficult to imagine what the reaction would have been if members of this advisory group had previously volunteered their time to write a paper on the very same topic as the panel’s business, as three members of this panel had done, but for a forest industry association rather than the Sierra Club, and that association had then built an elaborate PR campaign around the work.

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The individual who emerged as the group’s chief liaison with government, Lisa Matthaus, was not a technical expert at all but rather a former Sierra Club campaigns director now in a senior political operative job with Organizing for Change, an offshoot of MakeWay, the new name of Tides Canada, a longtime advocacy group, which rebranded itself in 2020 after complaining its anti-everything goals had been misunderstood.

Given all this, it was hardly surprising when the panel came back with recommendations that threaten to gut an entire industry. But if the scientific case for radically reducing access to forestry lands was so strong, why rely on such a cooked process? Founding the heralded paradigm shift on fragile legitimacy only risks hardening existing social polarization.

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A zero-sum framing — you can choose ancient trees or you can choose jobs, but only bad people opt for jobs — is the preferred mental construct of anti-forestry campaigners. The enormous conservation strides B.C. has made since the 1990s “war in the woods” are ignored, confirming again that no amount of give and take is ever enough. It’s as if the culture wars raging in university humanities departments had shifted over to the science faculties, with ecologists who believe trees are altruistic beings who talk to each other clashing for supremacy over forestry scientists and professionals who must weigh many factors.

In the end, the insider moves of a narrow interest group snookered the provincial cabinet, MLAs, citizens, and the broader forestry community. Any hope for a balanced outcome now rests with Indigenous leaders, the only group with the political clout to go up against the environmental lobby.

Stewart Muir is a journalist and founder of Vancouver-based Resource Works Society. The full version of this article appears in the latest issue of The Forestry Chronicle, a publication of the Canadian Institute of Forestry.

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Opinion: Jason Kenney has become the Boris Johnson of Canadian politics – The Globe and Mail

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill on Dec. 10, 2019.BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

In March of last year, Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu was pulled over in the province’s capital and issued a ticket for distracted driving in a school zone.

A couple of days later, he phoned Edmonton’s chief of police, Dale McFee, to discuss the $300 ticket, which he eventually paid.

The ticket, and the phone call, only recently came to light thanks to the CBC. Things moved quickly after that; Mr. Madu defended himself by saying he didn’t phone Mr. McFee to protest the ticket, but rather to discuss the issue of racial profiling. Mr. Madu is Black. He also wanted to be assured he wasn’t being “unlawfully surveilled,” which some police in the province have been accused of doing.

This week, Premier Jason Kenney expressed “profound disappointment” in Mr. Madu for making the phone call, and asked him to “step back from his ministerial duties” while an independent investigation into the matter is carried out.

Mr. Kenney should have fired Mr. Madu on the spot.

There is almost no circumstance in which Mr. Madu, who is also solicitor-general and responsible for law enforcement in Alberta, could be returned to his cabinet duties, such is the iron-clad rule in politics that elected officials (particularly cabinet ministers) don’t interfere in the administration of justice at any level. It’s an automatic termination offence.

Mr. McFee, for what it’s worth, has corroborated the justice minister’s version of events; that he wasn’t calling to get out of the ticket but to discuss carding, an issue he has championed. And while I may have some sympathy for Mr. Madu on this matter, you do not pick up the phone and call the chief of police to have a conversation about it after getting a ticket.

In a different scenario, maybe the police chief interprets the call as subtle pressure and gets the violation ripped up. The fact that didn’t happen in this case is irrelevant. Cabinet ministers can’t appear to be using their office to exert influence or put their finger on the scales of justice in any way. Especially if you are the justice minister.

So while some will say Mr. Madu’s intentions weren’t malicious or corrupt, it doesn’t matter. He violated a sacred tenet of government. He may have found other means, or avenues, to have this issue addressed that didn’t involve him picking up the phone and calling the city’s top cop.

There is, however, another disturbing aspect to this whole affair: The question of what Mr. Kenney knew, and when he knew it.

As mentioned, the incident and phone call happened 10 months ago. According to veteran Alberta columnist Don Braid, it was widely known among members of cabinet and discussed in “jocular” terms. It seems inconceivable that if members of cabinet knew about this, Mr. Kenney didn’t also.

The Premier should make clear when he found out about the matter; was it only when the CBC story made it public? If Mr. Madu discussed the issue with colleagues, would he not also have notified the Premier’s office of what happened? I would think that most justice ministers in this country would notify their bosses when they have a run-in with police, regardless of how insignificant it was.

At the very least, it’s inconceivable that Mr. Madu’s own chief of staff wouldn’t have been told about it and then passed it along to the Premier’s office. No head of government likes nasty surprises. That’s one of the core rules of being in government, and especially cabinet. If there is a potential for some damaging information to come to light, you alert the top person.

That is why I am highly skeptical that Mr. Kenney only found out about this recently. He’s renowned for his micromanaging tendencies and his insistence that he not be the victim of any unpleasant surprises. It’s virtually impossible to believe he wasn’t aware of this story long before now.

This is, of course, just another illustration of the shockingly poor judgment that members of Mr. Kenney’s cabinet – and the Premier himself – have demonstrated over the past couple of years. Mr. Kenney’s nearly three-year reign of error has been enveloped by melodrama and controversy. At various times his response to the pandemic was atrocious. His response to most internal problems has been to deny and delay until he’s boxed into a corner and is forced to do something. There have been calls for his resignation both inside and outside his party.

Mr. Kenney has become the Boris Johnson of Canadian politics. Like the British Prime Minister, he seems to have put a foot wrong at almost every turn, and come to be seen as a bumbling, incompetent leader. And his handling of this latest imbroglio will do nothing to diminish that image.

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