I caught up with Liberal MP Scott Brison today while he was on his way to New Brunswick to attend an event with Michael Ignatieff, and asked him how his summer has been going.
Q: What have you been up to?
A: Well, I’ve been on a South western Ontario tour focused on “Buy America,” meeting with companies, workers, and municipal leaders who are concerned about and feel pressured by the “Buy America” provisions in the US. I then participated in a conference of the Pacific North West Economic Region in Boise, Idaho. I lobbied American state-level legislators on “Buy America” and country of origin labelling. I’ve met with this summer the Canada-India Business Council, as well as the Canada-Pakistan Business Council. I spent a week in Quebec City, where I met with Liberal Party activists and organisers, and I met with the young chamber of commerce of Quebec, and with journalists in Quebec.
Next week I’m doing a Western Canada tour, meeting with the Asia-Pacific Foundation, various chambers of commerce, and also party members. Then the week after that, I’m flying to Colombia to meet with proponents and opponents of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. I’m meeting with President Uribe, and his foreign minister, his trade minister and his labour minister, but I’m also meeting with labour activists who are opposed to the trade agreement, and with representatives of indigenous groups in Colombia – both opponents and proponents. Then we have our caucus [in Sudbury], and then I’m going to China with Michael Ignatieff in September.
I’m going to China for the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China, which is what they call their “summer Davos conference,” and as part of that trip, I’m going to spent time with Michael Ignatieff meeting with [Chinese] business leaders and government officials.
Q: So you’ve had a busy summer already, and the rest of it is going to be busy.
A: Absolutely, and I’m also very active in the riding as well, so it’s been a non-stop summer.
Q: It’s just about exhausting having listened to it.
A: I have yet to take any summer holiday, and I’m not going to, in fact. I usually take a few days after Christmas – it slows down right after Christmas for a week or two, and that’s a better time to make a little time, I find. In politics, summers are very busy.
Q: That’s always one of the misnomers I hear from certain media outlets, about MPs who “go on holidays” for the summer. I don’t know almost a single one who goes on holidays in the summer.
A: No. You have to make hay when the sun shines. I remain very busy in the summer months. The trade files – did you read the recent op-ed I had in the National Post?
Q: I did.
A: I’m very active on the China file, and I’m looking forward to organising a trip to India as well. I believe very strongly in recognising that multiculturalism isn’t just a successful social policy, but it’s an important economic opportunity and an economic driver. It’s my desire to work with Canada’s multicultural communities to build natural bridges to the fastest growing economies in the world.
Q: Halifax Pride – how was that for you?
A: It was fun. I enjoyed it very, very much. It is such a tremendous outpouring of support of the broader community for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, and it’s grown to be just a wonderful celebration that the whole community engages in.
Something else I remembered – I recently spoke to the Franklin Institute in conference, where American legislators – congressmen and senators – met in Ottawa, where I gave remarks and then participated in a panel on energy and the environment and climate change.
Q: I remember you were very interested in that during your leadership bid – is that something you’re still keeping tabs on?
A: Absolutely. I continue to engage on it and study it. I’m absolutely involved in it. That’s an area where I have a pretty strong interest.