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Can an Indian VIP be sacked for calling police chief over traffic violation? It happens in Canada

Canada is a country that takes its traffic laws VERY seriously. Now, a Canadian minister has been removed from office for calling the police chief and mentioning a traffic ticket he was issued!

POLITICS  |   5-minute read  |   18-01-2022

There are four types of people in India when fined for traffic violations –

  1. Two, who will pay a small amount of bribe and get back on the way;
  2. Four, who will call any distant friend or family with even a little influence to negotiate out of the situation.
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We are so used to these kinds of attitudes on Indian roads that seldom does even a grave traffic violation by a VVIP make us blink. But what does grab our attention is when something ‘right’ or ‘just’ happens in such cases.

Well, unfortunately, the story is not from India. We may be light years away from that yet.

In Canada, a Minister of Justice in the province of Alberta has been stripped off of his duties and post for calling the police chief of the area and mentioning about being fined for a traffic violation.

In the interim period, I have asked Minister Madu to step back from his ministerial duties.Minister Sonya Savage will act as Minister of Justice and Solicitor General during Minister Madu’s leave of absence.4/5

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 18, 2022

WHAT HAPPENED?

On the morning of March 10, 2021, Alberta’s Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu was pulled over by the Canadian traffic police. Madu was fined Canadian $300 for ‘distracted driving’ in a school zone or using his phone while driving. Madu was issued a ticket for a traffic violation.

According to Madu's statement on the incident, he had disagreed with the police officer, but nonetheless paid the fine in full.

Canadian politician Kaycee Madu loses post over traffic ticket controversy. Photo: @KayceeMaduYEG/Twitter

This incident may come as a culture shock from the point of view of Indians, where a minister is fined for a traffic violation, that too for talking on the phone while driving. Indian politicians or their sons and daughters and their next of the next of the next kin are seldom fined for driving drunk, speeding, or graver offences.

One more video from different angle to clear, what happened at #Lakhimpur_Kheri #LakhimpurKheriViolence pic.twitter.com/zwqmEXSDUA

— Shashi S Singh (@Morewithshashi) October 9, 2021

So, talking on the phone while driving seems like a very minor violation compared to other acts.

Anyways, it is not the traffic violation ticket issued to Madu that led to him being removed from office. It was what happened next.

In his statement, Madu said he called the police chief of the area and briefly mentioned being fined. It was made clear by the spokesperson of the Alberta Police that at no point in time did Madu ask for a favour or to rescind the ticket.

Sounds normal right, for a politician? Of course, as Indians, we are all aware of what to do to get out of a sticky legal situation – call whoever remotely related friend or family working in the same or a distant government position to talk the police out of fining you. So, a politician and a minister with all that power NOT calling the police chief over the traffic ticket would be more surprising.

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Madu did call the Police Chief of Alberta. He said he was concerned the incident had something to do with a case involving a police department, or with minority community people being pulled over by the police. The Police Chief assured him that it had nothing to do with either of the cases. Madu says he never asked the Chief to take back the ticket or assert undue pressure on him to do so.

WHY IS THERE AN OUTCRY OVER MADU CALLING THE POLICE CHIEF?

However, when CBS News broke the story of Madu having phoned the Police Chief and having mentioned about the ticket on January 17, 2022, there was public outcry over the incident of a VIP using his influence.

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Madu calling the Police Chief and even mentioning about the ticket was seen as the politician trying to assert indirect pressure on the Chief to take it back, when speaking from his position of power. It was seen as a situation of power imbalance, with Madu holding the upper hand. And even a brief mention of the violation could have been a message for the Chief to do something to interfere with justice.

Irfan Sabir, a Canadian politician pointed out that normal citizens don’t have the privilege of phoning the Police Chief and discussing about a traffic violation ticket.

Regular Alberta drivers do not have the ability to call their local police chief and discuss their traffic tickets. Minister Madu used his position as minister to initiate this conversation, and he must step down.#ableg https://t.co/yeu85If9bQ

— Irfan Sabir (@MLAIrfanSabir) January 18, 2022

It almost seems alien for an Indian that a politician could lose his or her job for such a ‘minor’ issue as calling the Police Chief and technically NOT even asking to roll back a ticket or an FIR. In India, it is more likely for a police chief or an officer to be suspended or even killed if they dare to take action against a politician in violation with law.  

In 2019, Indore BJP MLA Akash Vijayvargiya thrashed a municipal corporation officer with a cricket bat over an argument and even said that he’ll do it again if needed. What happened to him? He was arrested, but released on bail the same day. The BJP then issued him a showcause notice. However, he still remains an MLA and part of the BJP.

In 2018, a Congress MLA from Dalhousie slapped a policewoman (the politician got slapped back!). In another shameless incident, a Shiv Sena MP slapped the staff of Air India for not allotting him a business class seat.

There was a time when IPS officer Kiran Bedi and her team became urban legends for having towed away a car belonging to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for violating traffic laws. However, such conduct has only become that, stuff of the legends in India.

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