Golden fingers and golden showers

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Occasionally, the stuffy confines of our House of Parliament are not the boring, drab halls Canadians generally perceive them to be. Occasionally, they are pretty damn hilarious.

Such was the case last Friday. The House was debating the issue surrounding John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who broke the rules of the Treasury Board to have gold-embossed business cards created that dropped the word Canada and removed the Lester B Pearson Building from the address. Not only was such a move seen as petty and self-aggrandizing, it was also far more expensive.

Enter Scott Brison, a Liberal MP from Kings-Hants riding in Nova Scotia.

Brison first said that Baird, by insisting on gold-embossing on his cards, was giving the Canadian taxpayer the “golden finger” – an obvious allusion to the James Bond movie Goldfinger. While this received some laughs and a snarky retort from Baird, what Brison said next was the real killer.

“When Canadians are struggling just to get by,” Brison asked. “Why are Conservative ministers showering each other with gold? Why the golden showers, Mr. Speaker?”

Even Baird was amused by Brison’s remarks, responding through laughter that Brison’s assertion of a conspiracy between ministers to trade favours was absurd. Following Question Period, Brison feigned ignorance of what the term “golden shower” meant, saying he was “a country guy” who “didn’t want to piss off the minister.”

After hearing of this exchange, I felt I needed to know more about this Liberal MP, and I found that he is quite an interesting character.
First elected in 1997, Brison has been serving as an MP for 14 years, first as a Progressive Conservative and then as a Liberal. He got his start in business, first selling fridges and then moving into corporate sales. In 2002, he came out as gay – at the time he was the only openly gay MP for the Progressive Conservatives.

With Joe Clark’s retirement as leader of the PCs in 2003, Brison ran for the leadership of the party and lost to Peter MacKay. Soon after, when the Progressive Conservatives merged with the Canadian Alliance and Reform Party in the “Unite the Right” movement, Brison crossed the floor, joining with the Liberals over his fears that the more socially conservative Alliance members were taking control of the party.

He first ran as a Liberal in 2004, and won his Nova Scotia riding again. In July of 2004, he was named Minister of Public Works, making him the first openly gay minister in Canada’s history. When Paul Martin resigned in 2006, Brison ran for leader of the party on a platform of environmentalism and economic reform, giving incentives to people and businesses to enact more environmentally conscious policies. Although he garnered some support, he eventually threw his votes behind Bob Rae in the losing attempt to boost Rae to victory over the eventual victor: Stephane Dion.

In 2007, he married Maxime St. Pierre, becoming the first sitting Member of Parliament to be married to a same-sex partner. Since then, he’s survived some of the most tumultuous times in Parliament for the Liberal Party, and he has again been suggested as leader of the Liberal Party when it finally chooses a new leader. However, Brison has stated that he and his partner are planning on starting a family, and that another leadership race might lead to Canada’s first same-sex divorce.

It is clear that Brison, while talented in business and politics, is also pretty damn funny. On top of that, he’s a major figure in the queer history of Canada. While I can’t see a Liberal becoming Prime Minister any time in the near future, it is clear that Brison would not be the worst choice.

Edward Dodd
Op-Ed Editor

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