President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison has announced that his 22-year run as the MP for Kings-Hants will come to an end with the next federal election.
On Jan. 10, the Cheverie resident declared that he won’t be reoffering in 2019.
Although Brison made it known he was happy to represent the whole region and Canada as a nation in cabinet, it was clear that he had a soft spot for Hants County, his home, and of course “downtown Cheverie,” as he often jokingly refers to his stomping grounds.
Despite crossing the floor earlier in his career, voters ensured there was a seat with his name on it in Ottawa seven times and many of his stalwart supporters believe Brison’s inherent personable approach when talking to people, deep local knowledge and a dash of humour had a hand in his success.
For instance, when asked about his decision not to run again, Brison said with all of the ice on the ground, it’s just too slippery.
“This is a personal decision that Max and I have made for our family and, after 22 years of public service, I believe I’ve earned the right to concentrate and focus on my family,” said Brison.
“If you had asked me 15 years ago whether or not I would ever have children, I would have probably told you no. The opportunity just didn’t exist. Some people have children easily, some even by accident… so us having a family took a lot of work. Rose and Claire are miracles in our life. I want to be freer to focus on them.”
He’s deeply grateful to the people of Kings-Hants for the opportunity to serve them in Ottawa for as long as he has, said Brison.
“Public life is not a job, it’s a life, and it doesn’t just involve the person who is elected. It represents a significant sacrifice for his or her family,” he said.
But don’t expect Brison to remain idle for long.
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“I’m not intending on sitting on the couch and eating Doritos and watching Netflix, not for very long,” he said. “I like to work. I get up at 5 a.m. every morning seven days a week. I will do something else and I suspect it’ll be in the private sector.”
Brison has a background in business, private equity and investment banking, but he’s not sure which field he’ll dive into next.
“I will always be a Hants Shore guy, and whatever I do, that doesn’t define me. I’m a product of the Hants Shore,” he said. “I’m a Cheverie boy and I always will be.”
Brison said he’s confident that Nova Scotia will have a strong voice in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.
“There’s been no Prime Minister who has had the back of Atlantic Canadians more than Prime Minister Trudeau,” he said. “The investments in the communities of Kings-Hants are a testament to that.”
He said some of his proudest moments in politics have been helping people directly out of his constituency office navigate government programs and other issues.
“Some of those cases, which I obviously can’t speak about individually, really changed people’s lives,” he said. “I’m proud of that case work my constituency office has done such a great job with.”
He also cites the region’s growing wine sector as something he’s championed throughout his career.
Brison said he will continue to support the Liberal Party, and he suspects Kings-Hants will attract a strong candidate for the election.
Hants West MLA Chuck Porter said he was as surprised by Brison’s announcement as anyone else.
“Twenty-two years is a long time to be in the public service and he’s worked hard at that,” Porter said. “I wish him well in the future.”
Porter has known Brison since they went to high school together.
“Scott’s a guy I’ve known for many years and I appreciate the work he’s done on behalf of our residents,” he said.
Martha MacQuarrie, Conservative Party of Canada candidate for Kings-Hants and Kentville resident, said she respects Brison’s decision to focus on his family.
“I guess I can honestly say that I understand that he’s focusing on his family, his two small girls, and I certainly understand that, having raised a family myself,” MacQuarrie said. “I applaud him for the responsibility that family takes.”
MacQuarrie is now the only official candidate for Kings-Hants in the Oct. 19 election, but that likely won’t last for long.
“In my mind, that doesn’t lessen the work,” she said. “It takes going to the doorsteps. I was prepared to run against Scott, and I’m prepared now. There’s going to be somebody there come election day.”
Much of the public reaction to Brison’s announcement included wishing him well and hoping he enjoys spending time with his family.
Here’s what some locals had to say a mere few hours after the announcement:
Lisa Hines, general manager of the Hants County Exhibition:
"I'm so disappointed to hear this news. Scott was a champion for our area. He's a sharp, intelligent individual who I think truly loves this place we are lucky to call home. We will sure miss his advocacy. He's served us well."
Carrilee Eddy, a resident of Kempt Shore:
“We were entertained more than once by his father, Clifford, who was obviously proud of his son. It's been interesting living in the community where many like him and some don't, especially when he joined the Liberal party.”
West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian:
“Scott has been instrumental to most things achieved in Hants County in the last 20 years. The Municipality of West Hants greatly thanks him for his years of dedicated service to all our residents and we will miss him dearly. We wish him success in his future endeavours and are happy to know he will be taking time to spend with his beautiful family.”
Windsor Mayor Anna Allen:
“He’s been our MP for 22 years and that’s a long time for any elected official. He’s certainly left his mark on our community and has done very well for himself and for us, too. I’m sure he will be missed and we wish him all the best. It comes as a bit of a shock, but we’ll adapt.”
Sis Gordon, Windsor resident:
“He participated in everything and he was great with the people. I will be sad to see him go. I just liked the way he was with the communities.”
Dee Joof, Hantsport resident:
“It makes me sad. He’s been instrumental as far as in my profession, with dementia and the business I run in Hantsport, he has been able to help me every time I’ve been in his office. He’s been really proactive and has helped me in many, many ways. For him not to run again is almost disastrous. It’s sad news for me.”
Jesse Robertson, Windsor resident
“I’m a little surprised, to be honest, I thought he was going to stick around a bit longer, everybody loves him, so I wouldn’t have expected him to lose. I think he’s a likeable guy, I don’t really disagree with his politics, and I can’t really think of anything he’s done that’s stuck out to me as either amazingly good or amazingly bad. I’d say he did pretty well in that regard.”