Kaycee Madu, the incumbent UCP MLA, has had many mishaps during his last four years in office.
From his support of the Freedom Convoy on Twitter to calling the Edmonton police chief over a distracted driving ticket, Madu remains a divisive figure in provincial politics. But he has gained strong support from Premier Danielle Smith, who appointed him as deputy premier when she secured the UCP leadership in 2022.
“Madu’s high profile ministry has been scandal-plagued,” says MRU political science professor Duane Bratt. Edmonton-South West represents a key swing riding. In 2019, Kaycee won by a narrow margin of 725 votes, and was also the only UCP MLA to win a seat in Edmonton.
But in 2015, Edmonton-South West was won by the NDP’s Thomas Dang, who was then the youngest Alberta MLA ever elected.
This story is part of an editorial partnership between the Calgary Journal and MacEwan University journalism.
The 2023 race looks to be tight as well—as Madu will be challenged by NDP candidate Nathan Ip, a former school trustee.
English teacher Angela MacDonald-Belanger, who lives in the riding, has found Madu patronizing.
“I have emailed and/or called him at least 8-9 times over the years, and he has only responded with copied and pasted form letters,” she said.
The one time Madu called her back to discuss her school concerns, she said she found Madu dismissive. “He was challenging me on school issues. Then when I called to follow up, he didn’t respond at all.”
Mount Royal political science professor Duane Bratt says Madu has “put his foot in his mouth” a number of times since being elected. “And his high-profile ministry has been scandal plagued. Particularly being removed as justice minister.”
In March 2021, Madu was issued a $300 distracted driving ticket for using his cell phone while driving in a school zone. Afterwards, it was revealed that Madu phoned the Police Chief Dale McFee to discuss his traffic ticket.
In February 2022, Madu was shuffled from his position as justice minister after an investigation found he tried to interfere with the administration of justice.
Several months later, he drew controversy after tweeting praise for Freedom Convoy protestors by saying, “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.”
At the same time, Madu introduced a $2000 fine for those who violated COVID-19 restrictions in the spring of 2021 while he was justice minister.
Bratt says the main issues in this election are affordability and healthcare as opposed to oil and gas, which dominated the 2019 election.
Nathan Ip says the NDP’s plan is to put a cap on utilities and car insurance to help address Alberta’s affordability concerns. Additionally, Ip explained that the NDP would put a cap on post-secondary tuition—although tuition was already set to be capped at two per cent starting in 2024-2025.
Ip also emphasized the importance of community engagement. “I have a track record of working collaboratively with the community. I have represented a large part of this riding as a school board trustee for nearly 10 years.”
Regarding Alberta’s family doctor shortage, Ip explained the NDP’s proposed Family Health Team model, which would give Albertans access to a team of healthcare professionals including a psychologist, nurse, pharmacist, and family doctor.
The construction of South Edmonton Hospital has been a highly discussed topic for this community. Since 2019, the project has consistently been delayed ever since the UCP victory. In February, Notley promised spending $1.8 billion to build the hospital if she became premier again. “We’re gonna build the Southside hospital that’ll serve much of the community—specifically here in South Edmonton,” says Ip.
Madu could not be reached despite multiple requests for an interview.