The government of the Canadian Province of Alberta has appointed Nigerian-born Kaycee Madu as the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of the province. Canada has ten provinces.
Premier Jason Kenney on Tuesday elevated Madu to the justice portfolio from Municipal Affairs in a cabinet shuffle.
Kenney said the appointment of Madu makes a powerful statement at a time when Albertans have grown more sensitive to racial prejudice.
“Madu is a man who has experienced racial prejudice firsthand and can bring that sensitivity to this important role,” Kenney said. “I’m excited to have him in that position.”
The premier said Madu is the first Black Canadian to occupy either provincial or federal justice positions of the justice minister, attorney general or solicitor general.
The 47-year-old was born and raised in Southeast Nigeria. He graduated from the University of Lagos with a law degree in 2001. Madu, who has practised law in both Nigeria and Alberta, and his wife migrated to Canada in 2005. The couple have three children.
Madu, a member of the United Conservative Party, was first elected as a minister in Alberta after the April 2019 general election, after winning a seat in the province’s Legislative Assembly.
Madu’s appointment is being celebrated in Alberta’s Black community as a way to bring needed perspective to the justice system.
Dunia Nur, president of the Edmonton-based African Canadian Civic Engagement Council, said Madu has become a role model for the community.
“Whether we agree with one party or another doesn’t really matter, especially for the Black voice right now,” Nur said in an interview on Tuesday.
“What matters is effective Black people that are educated, that have integrity.. are the ones that are occupying the space.”
Nur said Madu is well suited to his new role, not only because of his background as a lawyer but also because he is an active member of the African community.
“Historically, these are positions that have been occupied by White men that have no understanding of the disproportional impact of the justice system and what Black communities experience,” she said.
“By him being the minister of justice, it shows that the government is listening.”
Reacting to the appointment, Madu stated that the importance of carrying the new ministry forward amid difficult social and economic times weighs heavily on his mind.
He said that his fundamental belief in equal access to justice has always informed his legal work, and that will never change.
“I spent my entire professional career fighting for those who lacked means, including at Legal Aid Alberta, Labour, Immigration, and Human Rights Tribunals, and in the courts. My views on the application of justice and equality will always be integral to who I am as a father, husband, citizen, lawyer, and politician.
“I am determined to make sure our justice system represents all Albertans in a way that is fair and accountable. In particular, I believe modernising the Police Act will be a necessary step towards ensuring equality for marginalised people before the law, and I look forward to that important work ahead,” he noted.