Friday, March 17, 2006

The Race for Stornoway: Scott Brison

Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.
-John Kenneth Galbraith

Age: 38

Background: May born May 10th, 1967, which would make him the youngest leader in Liberal Party history if he won. Apparently he rented fridges before entering politics. Yes, I’m not making that up. I’m not allowed to make this up.

Political History: In 1997, Brison was elected as a Progressive Conservative in Kings Hants. He resigned his seat to let Joe Clark into the House, but returned in 2000. Brison ran for PC leadership in 2003, making a name for himself, and tossing his support behind Jim Prentice. Despite voting for the merger, Brison crossed the floor to join Team Martin and soon found himself as the Minister of Public Works. There, he made sure that Judge Gomery could do his work.

Rejected Campaign Slogan: “Vote Brison and U will be happy very soon!”

Rejected Endorsement: CIBC

Rejected Platform: His 2003 PC leadership platform

Pros: Charismatic. Good speaker. Young. Sadly, has been an elected Liberal longer than many of the candidates.

Cons: Former Conservative. Now tied in with the Income Trust Scandal Thingy.

In Person: Brison’s a very slick politician. He’ll work a room better than anyone and talk to the people he needs to talk to. I’ve probably talked to him more than most of the potential candidates out there and have always been impressed with the guy.

My Take: Brison’s a very charismatic politician and I thought the PCs would have been wise to pick him as their leader in 2003. He’d make a very good leader of the opposition since he’d get media clips and attack forcefully.

But I have major doubts as to how good a Prime Minister he’d be. Brison has a tendency to resort to over simplifications and ridiculous attacks (“Stephen Harper is against bilingualism, multiculturalism, and the Charter”). If you want style over substance and a guy who might do well in an election campaign, then Brison is your guy. But we’re not just electing an opposition leader and Brison ran for PC leadership two and a half years ago promising two tier health care, massive tax cuts, and troops in Iraq.

Brison has a bit of potential and in a few years, I’d consider backing him. However, at this time, he’s still far too Tory for my liking. The Income Trust connection and his horrible handling of it is just the kiss of death for him in my opinion. After losing an election on ethics and accountability, we need an impeccably clean leader and Brison no longer fits that description.

Chances: With a lot of the old "Team Martin" behind him, I suspect Brison will do very well in this leadership race. Despite his Blackberry faux pas, I fully expect him to be a serious contender.


  • historically, has anyone ever crossed the floor and then gone on to lead another party? i can't think of any Canadian examples... what about other countries with our parliamentary system?

    By Blogger Hasty, at 4:24 p.m.  

  • The race could turn into a marathon.

    Get used to Stornoway you are going to be there for a while.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:26 p.m.  

  • Winston Churchill

    By Blogger John Murney , at 4:38 p.m.  

  • Bart.

    Who are U to write about me this way?

    U can kiss my ass when I win.


    Scotty B

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:59 p.m.  

  • Another good piece, calgarygrit.
    The income trust thing will blow over, mostly because he didn't do anything wrong except freak out when he was blamed.
    This is a proven young charismatic leader who will be running against a bunch of tired old men.
    There are a lot of red tories out there still looking for a reason to side with the Grits and Brison could be it.
    Also, of all the potential candidates, Brison will be by far the most popular among the Youth. That helps a lot in a campaign, having a lot of young energetic volunteers.
    I don't think he'll win, but I think he'll go a long ways and so he should.

    By Blogger Ned Noodle, at 5:28 p.m.  

  • This is a post about Scott Brison but first - you have the best political blog on the net. As for Scott, I liked him as a Tory and as a Liberal minister but now, after what has happened, he needs to not get in the race; be a good MP; support someone credible like Kennedy and think about it all again in 10 years when he still will have lots of time to make an impact.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:38 p.m.  

  • I am interested to see what his platform is going to be. He was the one with unique ideas during the PC leadership race. How well he will do will depend on the organization behind him, and if Liberals are willing to elect someone who was a former Tory.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:38 p.m.  

  • A gay man as PM? Not a chance in hell. It's doubtful as to whether Canadians are even ready to elect a woman or minority to be Prime Minister, let alone a gay man. Maybe in 10 or 20 years when more of the homophobes are dead and buried, but not now.

    By Blogger Robert McClelland, at 6:04 p.m.  

  • I'm supposed to be the guy who knows this, but I don't, so: who's for Brison from the old Martin team? There's Leslie Swartman, and as far as I know, that's the end of the list. Not sniping, just genuinely curious...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:26 p.m.  

  • I find that amazing. To come to a Liberal blog and find people saying two things:

    One, he's been a Liberal for a short while. So are newly arrived immigrants. There shouldn't be a rule on long-term Liberals are more deserving of leadership. Not that it was meant like that, but I think it shouldn't be the check against him. In values, it is fair to say he was always similar to Paul Martin, even as a PC. Remember Mulroney joking for Paul Martin to bolt from Chretien? The joke was funny because there was truth to it.

    Sincerly, in the name of two big-tent parties - that shouldn't be the disqualifier for him or Stronach.

    Two, if so-called "progressives" always harp on someones sexual orientation and declare them automatically disqualified based on it - then they should stop pretending they "represent" those groups. Personally, Scott Brison might want to consider rejoining the Tories with basically anti-gay attitudes projected onto Canadians.

    Robbo - you don't speak for Canada and I think we Canadians should get the chance to decide whether we can elect gays, women or anyone with the skills to get them into contention.

    Harper's push into Quebec should have taught you: stop working in stereotypes, because Canadians are real, thinking adults.

    Something tells me - the first gay/women/minority PM will be a Tory (oh wait, she already was, I mean ELECTED will also be.) These groups have no chance if they are constantly disqualified at the starting gate.

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 7:24 p.m.  

  • PW; I can only speak for Alberta and, out here, he's got a lot of the old Martin team from John Bethel on down.

    Everyone keeps talking about the old Martin crowd going Brison but I guess you're right in that few have publicly said so.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 7:42 p.m.  

  • The Martin people in Manitoba that can't stand Reg Alcock (which is a lot of people) are also lining up with Brison, no big names, but a lot of prominant people in some of the ethnic communites that really bought out huge numbers last time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:11 p.m.  

  • Brison's Campaign has a few Martin organizers, some Manley and Tobin ones and even a Jean Chretien loyalist or two!
    Names will come soon but the Media, like Paul Wells, have to be patient. This is a marathon. They'll get their first nugget pretty soon.

    Swartman, while a Martin person also worked in the OLO under Jean Chretien and in Sergio Marchi's office and Bob Speller's. She's a Liberal with a big big L.

    The funny thing is about the Party that as the membership stands today, 90% could be considered as the Martin Team, afterall he did sweep the last convention and virtually all of the organizers were with him (Warren Kinsella, Eddie Goldenberg, John Rae and a few Copps organizers excepted).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:15 p.m.  

  • Scott Brison has had a pretty afwul week in the media, yet, tonight's CTV online poll has him right up there. Seems like a candidacy that is pretty solid.

    Like to hear from Paul Wells on it. With close to 36,000 votes cast, it is doubtful if this could have been manipulated.

    Who do you think should be chosen as the next leader of the Liberal party?

    Scott Brison 8627 votes (24 %)

    Stephane Dion 5438 votes (15 %)

    Michael Ignatieff 4975 votes (14 %)

    Bob Rae 9725 votes (27 %)

    Belinda Stronach 7044 votes (20 %)

    Total Votes: 35809

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:04 p.m.  

  • Am I naive? I don't think Canadians will have a big problem with Brison's man friend.

    Sure, a few will always see that first, and not like it - but all in all, I don't see Canadians voting against him based on whose ring he's wearing.

    He's a weasel, and he was in the wrong in the IT nonsense, but I think he's got a pretty fair chance.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:54 p.m.  

  • I tend to think that any poll which has Bob Rae and Belinda Stronach 1-3 lacks credibility...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:55 p.m.  

  • Some people need to stop living in the past. If we want to move forward, as a people and a country, someone needs to lead the way. I see Brison as that person. If we were ever to elect a gay person prime minister it'd be someone with the intellect, wit and ideas that Brison has.

    Not to mention that he managed to win over his rural Nova Scotia, historically conservative riding as a Liberal. Lead the way Scott!

    By Blogger McFly, at 11:06 p.m.  

  • I'm tired of seeing Liberals say that Canadians aren't ready for a gay PM. That's the kind of crap I expect from Tories. Immediately disqualifying someone before they even get a fair chance simply on the basis of their sexual orientation, well, there's a word for people who do that, and I don't think the Liberals I've seen thus far doing so would very much appreciate having it applied to them.

    By Blogger Ryan Ringer, at 12:39 a.m.  

  • We're Liberals. A candidate's sexual orientation is not an issue in the race nor does it make any candidate of ours less "electable," thanks in large part to the accomplishments of this party in making bigotry socially unacceptable.

    I support another candidate, but Brison is a personable and charismatic politician who will go far.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 1:13 a.m.  

  • I'm agnostic about the legitimacy of Scott's candidacy, but a word to the wise: anyone who takes online, self-selecting polls seriously is on crack. This is no word of a lie: I know a friend of a friend who spent today voting repeatedly for Stronach on the CTV poll. As a joke. Then he watched the Rae people fight back. Then he watched everyone fight back. (Probably at some point, serious Stronach supporters, if you'll forgive the term, started voting for her even after my acquaintance stopped.) The point is that none of this has anything to do with anything except who's got a few young Liberal supporters with way, way, way too much time and testosterone on their hands.

    None of this is meant to endorse or disqualify any candidate. I seriously hope most Liberals are holding their fire and not lining up with a candidate until they've heard a hell of a lot more than anyone has heard to date. I'm quite sure that's overoptimistic of me.

    In terms of the Martin Board as depicted in, say, photos in Susan Delacourt's book, most are not engaged with any candidate and of those who are, I know one who's for Dion, one for Dryden, some for Blinda, .... same with the people most closely identified with Chrétien (Terry Mercer's for Kennedy, Eddie's for Rae, one senior organizer is looking at Cauchon or Bevilacqua)....

    This is actually a pretty good second-best, if people can't simply abstain from choosing until later: they're scattering to the winds. As of right now, it seems really hard to characterize anyone as the "Martin candidate" or the "Chrétien candidate." This may be too much to hope, but: after spending 2002 and 2003 thinking like sheep (or lemmings!), are Liberals trying to think for themselves this time?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:18 a.m.  

  • Never mind that Tories would probably vote for the worst candidate in the bunch on a poll like that. Zero credibility...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:17 a.m.  

  • You may be right that this income trust scandal will blow over, but I have a feeling that charges may be layed down the road. It was a tip off to someone who new exactly what it signified. If a link can be made to show that some of the CIBC investors buddies or offshore connections made a bundle on this, then good old Scottie Boy is in heep of trouble, not to mention the CIBC investor. Until this investigation is complete, and he is at the minimum, slapped on the wrist, I think he is a bad choice for the Liberal leader.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:09 a.m.  

  • The Grope and Flail had Ralph Goodale making a bid for Lib leader for a while today. The story was posted at 3:38 and there were 12 comments allowed, mostly negative before the commenter was shut down at 7:15. The story was taken of the main page later in the evening. Were they running him up the flag pole and then pulled it when instead of saluting, people started chucking tomatoes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:41 a.m.  

  • Great post. I like the format you are using and although I want to steal it I won't ')

    I must say I wholeheartedly agree with your interpretation of him and his chances. I like Scott B, even is he is a Small C Liberal but then again, why is that such a bad thing..

    Young, smart, hippish in a Marty McFly kinda way. A little too quick with the send button on his blackberry but then again, so am I. Chicks would dig him and he'd get the "attractiveness counts" vote.

    Just too many little iffy bits that the neoconreformalliancers would muckrake with..

    Damn, I'd rent a fridge from that guy but if Bob Rae is in for th ejob, I'd have to say, give Scotty a few years as communications dude and possible Dep. PM. for a year before the elction in case BR wants to retire.

    By Blogger Muad'Dib, at 6:31 a.m.  

  • In Manitoba, aside from Reg and the vegtables that trail in his wake, most people are taking a wait and see attitude on the leadership. The instinct to mob up early with someone seems to be restrained this time. There seems to be a sense that this is a very important convention for the Liberal Party, that we're not electing someone who will automatically become PM. There is a feeling that the next leader will need a unique skill set, one whereby they can rebuild the party, restore public confidence in a damaged brand, then set their eyes on 24 Sussex. And this is a very good thing.

    By Blogger Don, at 9:30 a.m.  

  • can anyone explain the accent Scott Brison has??

    It's not Maritimer, its not Western, its not Newfoundlander... I just can't seem to pinpoint why he talks like that!

    Please someone fill me in!

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 10:07 a.m.  

  • To Rick W,
    My strong hunch is that having met with the RCMP Brison has a better idea than he can publicly say about what they may be investigating.
    If he proceeds with a leadership bid, I bet he has a very very strong feeling, and or knowledge, that no authority is pursuing him in the income trust issue. Yes a dumb email, but upon reading it I don't think anyone could seriously conclude that it contained inside info. It was common knowledge the government was going to propose an income trust solution before they went down to defeat in the House.
    The real question is why is no one in the media asking other ministers, former PMO staffers, former Finance staffers, if they have met with the rcmp?? I guarantee you that there is a lengthy list of interviews.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:02 a.m.  

  • historically, has anyone ever crossed the floor and then gone on to lead another party? i can't think of any Canadian examples... what about other countries with our parliamentary system?

    Hugh Guthrie came close to being elected Progressive Conservative leader in 1927, and was interim leader in the meantime. He had been a Liberal MP from 1900 to 1917, and then defected during the Conscription Crisis.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 11:15 a.m.  

  • Answer to hasty's question: Ronald Reagan.

    Started out as registered Democrat, campaigned actively for FDR and Truman in the '30s and '40s.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:21 p.m.  

  • The March 18 article in the Toronto Star by Fred Kerr about Brison will likely be sent to the Liberal membership by Brison's rivals, ending Brison's leadership ambitions.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:26 p.m.  

  • For hasty's question: Churchill.

    Mind you, special case, etc., etc.

    By Blogger The Tiger, at 1:23 p.m.  

  • Hasty: Douglas Lloyd Campbell was originally elcted as a candidate for the United Farmers of Manitoba party. He went on to become the Liberal premier of Manitoba from 1948-1958.

    By Blogger Don, at 1:31 p.m.  

  • Mr. Paul Wells:

    I gotta ask: "some for Blinda"

    brain/keyboard flub or sublimal message?

    By Blogger pale, at 2:10 p.m.  

  • Am I naive? I don't think Canadians will have a big problem with Brison's man friend.

    Yes you are naive, Jason. While progressives would have no problem voting for Brison in a federal election, there are still plenty of Liberal supporters who would. Just look at the number of Liberal MPs who voted against the same sex marriage legislation if you don't believe it. And the Tories would, without a doubt, conduct a whisper campaign aimed directly at Brison's sexuality to make certain the homophobes in Canada knew that Brison was gay.

    By Blogger Robert McClelland, at 2:55 p.m.  

  • Any serious discussion of Brison in a leadership context is simply more evidence the liberals have learned absolutely nothing about cleansing themselves of scandal.

    A licenced broker would be cleaning out his office for the same behaviour. The IDA has been in "shoot first, ask questions afterword" mode for years.

    Brison should be finished. Only two-tier justice will save his ass. The liberal party must ensure candidates meet higher standards than this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:56 p.m.  

  • Brison should be finished. Only two-tier justice will save his ass. The liberal party must ensure candidates meet higher standards than this.

    Brap! Burp! More dullwitted gibberish from righwing clowns. Maybe you rubes should think about the fact that Harper appointed a convicted criminal as Minister of Justice before yapping about Liberal standards.

    By Blogger Robert McClelland, at 3:02 p.m.  

  • Brison can't speak French (as well as Harper can). He will, and should, lose. But I liked his policies during the PC leadership race.

    By Blogger matt, at 9:19 p.m.  

  • An op-ed appeared in today's Toronto Star by a gentleman in Alberta that was somewhat critical of Brison. What the author, and the Star, failed to divulge is that a person by the same name has donated regularly to the Calgary Southwest Alliance Association, an organization whose MP happens to be Stephen Harper. Together with the fact that the Conservatives released the email story on Brison, this suggests to me that the Cons are trying to get Brison out of the Liberal Leadership race. Why would they do that? Well, I think it is because Brison is one of the most effective communicators on the political landscape today who probably reflects mainstream Canada more than most and who the Conservatives fear. They will not succeed. I am a Brison supporter, and Brison can chew Harper up and spit him out. The race has just begun.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:57 p.m.  

  • Brison has shown the maturity and sense of a fifteen year old,put away the hash pipe Scott and grow up life isn't about trying to look important to your friends.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:01 p.m.  

  • To Robert McLelland,

    Brison has been OUT as a gay man for the last two elections and in his riding, a very Conservative part of Nova Scotia, he has won by bigger majorities than he ever did as a PC.

    The average Canadian has less issues around sexuality than people think. The average Canadian wants to know that they will have a job, have a health care system to look after them, and have the opportunity to build a brighter and better future. Trudeau took the state out of the bedrooms of the nation almost 40 years ago. We really don't care what you do in your private life. That is of course unless you are a rabid neocon, but those will never ever vote Liberal anyway.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:06 p.m.  

  • Hasty,
    In Saskatchewan, Ross Thatcher left the CCF(forerunner to the NDP) and went on to become Liberal Premier from 1964-1971. Another example is Lucien Bouchard who left the Tory Cabinet under Mulroney and became leader of the Bloc Quebecois, and then eventually Premier of Quebec under the Parti Quebecois.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:52 p.m.  

  • As a former investment banker who should know better, Brison demonstrated lack of judgment in the IT affair. Bart is correct in his assessmet - Brison does not have the depth to be Prime Minister. Nonetheless, I expect him to run, and to do well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:15 p.m.  

  • Another example is Lucien Bouchard who left the Tory Cabinet under Mulroney and became leader of the Bloc Quebecois, and then eventually Premier of Quebec under the Parti Quebecois.

    Well, Bouchard created a new political party (the BQ); he didn't join an existing one.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 11:43 p.m.  

  • Check out the pattern on that tie. Brison's clearly after the soft nationalist vote, French or no French. ;)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:04 a.m.  

  • his greatest flaw i. . nobody loves Scotty like Scotty does.

    that we little bit to much arrogance and the fact that his French is really bad should make him the poster boy candidate to lead the Liberals on their multi decade trek through the swamps of political wastelands and unchrated forests,

    PLEASE select Scotty as the next Liberal leadewr

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:08 p.m.  

  • What would make me vote Liberal next federal election?

    1. no one associated with Paul Martin, his exec. or his last cabinet.

    2. a new, fresh bilingual face from west of the Ontario-Manitoba border

    3. a male(gay or not)

    4. under 50

    5. someone with NO baggage.

    6. someone with Star power enthusiasm.

    7. someone who's not a silverspoon

    8. married, with kids

    9. someone quick on his feet

    10. an underdog. Canadian's LOVE the underdog.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:04 p.m.  

  • Brison couldn't even beat David Orchard in the PC leadership race.

    How seriously should we take him? How good an organizer can he really be if he came in FOURTH behind DO.

    If he had only had enough skill to finish above 4th, we would have been spared the great orchard-mackay deal and all that ensued.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:38 p.m.  

  • brison doesn't have a hope in hell. he's as much an outsider for the leeadership as that stooge calgary grit is/

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:49 p.m.  

  • can anyone explain the accent Scott Brison has??

    It's not Maritimer, its not Western, its not Newfoundlander... I just can't seem to pinpoint why he talks like that!

    Please someone fill me in!

    Brison has, shall we say, a regional Maritime accent. He's from Windsor, which is at the eastern edge of the Annapolis Valley a little more than a half hour northwest of Halifax. In fact, he sounds just like the taxi drivers around here.

    In any case, Kings-Hants is a very Red Tory riding, and it's hardly a surprise that Brison has been able to hold onto it. I suppose I can see him as Liberal leader, but as PM, representing all of us on the world stage? I really can't picture it. Scott's a likeable guy, yes, but he's also a lightweight, something all the more evident when you see him in the company of the likes of Dion.

    By Blogger JG, at 10:58 p.m.  

  • can anyone explain the accent Scott Brison has??

    Its definitely quite a thick maritimer; John Herron has the exact same accent.

    By Blogger Ryan Ringer, at 11:46 p.m.  

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