The atrocious behaviour of Alberta’s conservative justice ministers are bringing the legal profession into disrepute

Alberta’s conservative justice ministers, both current and former, aren’t exactly covering the legal profession in glory. 

Tyler Shandro, who serves as Justice Minister today, is under investigation by the Law Society of Alberta for “conduct that brings the reputation of the profession into disrepute” over a 2020 incident in which Shandro drove to a doctor’s house to berate him over some social media posts (as well as two other serious incidents). The physician, Dr. Mukarram Ali Zaidi, was a notable conservative activist at the time, which is perhaps why the criticism stung Shandro so. The Law Society argues that it was deeply irresponsible for Shandro to accept his nomination to Justice Minister while he was under investigation.

But Shandro’s story pales compared to the wild scandal now surrounding one of his predecessors, Jonathan Denis. If you’re an Alberta politics head you’re probably familiar with this name. Denis was Justice Minister in the last PC government, and he’s been skulking around conservative political circles for a long time. A former political staffer, Denis co-founded a robo-calling and polling firm with Pierre Poilievre that provided services to the Conservative Party before eventually securing an MLA’s seat and a couple of cabinet positions here in Alberta back when the PCs were in charge.

But just this week Denis was found in contempt of court and of the far more serious charge of intimidating a witness, former provincial medical examiner Dr. Anny Sauvageau, whose testimony in an ongoing lawsuit against the province bothered him. Denis’ lawyer sent Dr. Sauvageau a letter threatening a defamation suit over her testimony, even though Denis knows full well that you can’t sue someone over what they say in court.

A former justice minister found guilty of witness intimidation would be a scandal of its own, but an incredible side-plot has also emerged. Apparently Jonathan Denis hired a self-described “fixer” to acquire the phone records of a reporter. It feels like there’s still a lot more to come on this story (just how does this operative have access to phone records, anyway?) but all in all it was a very bad, no-good week for Denis over which we will shed no tears. 

Shandro and Denis’ clown show this week follows hot on the heels of repeated embarrassments from the province’s last Justice Minister, Kaycee Madu, whose most recent hit involved him making a personal call to the Edmonton chief of police over a ticket Madu was given for distracted driving.

The nexus of Alberta’s old-boys-club right-wing political scene has one foot in oil and gas, but the other has always been in the mess of politically-connected local law firms that reap rewards every time there’s another phony constitutional challenge or lawsuit. If Denis and Shandro get their just desserts, we’ll be laughing. But there are a hundred more of these guys waiting in line for their turn at the trough, and the only real solution is to get the conservatives out of power as soon as we can.


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