An Alberta deputy premier says it was appropriate for his boss to phone up a pastor and discuss his upcoming criminal trial on charges stemming from protests over pandemic restrictions. 

Kaycee Madu says Premier Danielle Smith has a broad mandate to reduce divisions over the COVID-19 pandemic while helping the province grow. 

Madu says in pursuing that mission, Smith is free to contact whomever she wants.

Smith is coming under renewed criticism over a leaked phone conversation she had in January with protester and Calgary street preacher Artur Pawlowski about his approaching trial.

During the call, Smith commiserates with Pawlowski over her government’s legal tactics and offers to make inquiries on his behalf while telling him the Crown's charges are politically motivated.

The phone call was leaked to the Opposition NDP and shared with reporters earlier this week.

Madu is a former Alberta justice minister who was moved out of the portfolio under former premier Jason Kenney after he was found to have tried to interfere in the justice system by calling up Edmonton’s police chief to complain about a traffic ticket.

Madu was given a new portfolio under Kenney and became one of two deputy premiers when Smith won the party leadership and became premier in October.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023