With the Liberals and NDP back in Ottawa, I took the opportunity to start catching up with our gay and lesbian MPs. First up was Scott Brison, whom I managed to catch yesterday before he headed off to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Q: What did you get up to over the break?
A: [Deadly serious tone] We were working. [Smiles] We took a little break right after Christmas, but then back to work. Right after Christmas, we spent time with both families, in Quebec and in Nova Scotia, and it was good. It was wonderful.
Q: You’re heading to Davos this week for the World Economic Forum?
Q: What are you looking forward to with that?
A: I’m doing a panel at Davos with President Calderone of Mexico, Kofi Annan, and I believe Christine Lagarde – the finance minister of France – on how to attract the best and brightest to public life. I’ll also be participating in sessions all week, and I’ve got some bilateral trade meetings with countries, and we’ll be giving a speech at the Canada-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce dinner in Geneva, and then I’ll be coming back after that. So it’s going to be a busy week, and I’m looking forward to that. The last few years I’ve been at Davos, and I find it’s very substantive, and I find it’s a good opportunity to deepen one’s understanding of the emerging trends, global trends that are going to be important to the Canadian Economy.
Q: The Prime Minister is also heading there. Any particular meet-ups that you’re like to be there with him?
A: Canada’s not having a reception this year, which is unfortunate, and it speaks to the underfunding of DFAIT and our trade and investment promotion under this government. But I’ll be happy to show him around if it’s helpful.
Q: You’ve got a new minister now to critique. What are your impressions of Peter Van Loan?
A: As a citizen, as a Canadian, I hope he can succeed in defending Canada’s interests more effectively in the United States, and diversifying out trade relationships with emerging economies like China and India – I hope he can succeed where the Harper government has consistently failed. This is the fourth trade minister in the Harper government – it’s troubling. In a trade portfolio it’s very important to have somebody who can build and sustain important relations around the world. This government has gone through four trade ministers since Mr. Harper became Prime Minister, and that has a debilitating effect on any capacity to build long-term relations that can better defend Canada’s external interests. I think that the Harper Government has clearly lacked both bench strength and priority, and has failed to provide the appropriate priority to trade policy.