Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will shuffle his cabinet Monday after Treasury Board President Scott Brison, one of his senior economic ministers, announced he is leaving politics after nearly 22 years in Parliament.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Brison said he wants to spend more time with his two young twin daughters, Claire and Rose, and his husband, Maxime St-Pierre.
“The truth is, if I ran again, Max would shoot me,” Mr. Brison said jokingly. The 51-year-old Nova Scotia MP said the main factor in his decision was his four-year-old girls.
“If you had asked me 15 years ago if I would ever be a father, I would have said no, I don’t see how that would happen. … When Claire and Rose were born, it was a life-changer,” he said. “I think about them all the time and I really want to focus now on making decisions that are in the best interests of my family … and that’s a perfectly normal thing, but in politics, it’s sometimes hard to achieve.”
Mr. Brison was first elected as a Progressive Conservative MP in 1997. He switched to the Liberal Party in 2003 and became Minister of Public Works from 2004 to 2006 during the Liberal minority government led by Paul Martin.
John Manley, a former Liberal finance minister and onetime president of the Business Council of Canada, said Mr. Brison was a friend of the business community.
“He was one that would question where the spending is going and would advocate for fiscal probity.”
Mr. Manley said he hopes that perspective won’t be lost on Monday, when the Prime Minister reveals the makeup of his election-year cabinet.
“I know lots of people aren’t worried about the size of deficits," he said. "Some of us remember how hard it was to wrestle them to the ground when they got out of control and would like to see things very carefully managed.”
Mr. Brison could be called as a witness in the criminal trial of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, who is accused of leaking cabinet secrets. The trial is scheduled to begin in August, just as the fall election campaign heats up.
The issue relates to a 2015 cabinet decision by the Liberal government to briefly suspend a $700-million supply ship contract with Davie Shipbuilding in Quebec. The cabinet faced immediate pressure from Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding, which hoped the new government would cancel the plan and move the work to Nova Scotia.
RCMP affidavits tabled in court revealed that Davie executives suspected Mr. Brison of intervening on behalf of Irving. Mr. Brison has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has said that he was simply providing due diligence in relation to a major government expense.
Mr. Brison told The Globe on Thursday that the trial has nothing to do with his decision to leave politics.
“God no. That is a matter between the prosecution and Vice-Adm. Norman and that was not a factor whatsoever,” he said. “This is very much a family decision.”
Prior to entering politics, Mr. Brison worked in investment banking. He said Thursday that he will likely return to the private sector, but does not have a position lined up.
“Nothing concrete," he said. “No job offers or anything like that.”
The Prime Minister, who confirmed that he will shuffle his cabinet Monday, described Mr. Brison as an “extremely valuable” member of cabinet and thanked him for his service.
“As a parent, I know like so many know the difficult challenge of balancing a demanding job with time spent with young families, so I fully respect his decision,” he told reporters in Kamloops, B.C., on Thursday. “We’re going to miss him tremendously.”
The shuffle will require a replacement at Treasury Board, which is generally a low-profile but important position that involves leading the government’s internal spending reviews. The Prime Minister will likely want to elevate another Nova Scotia MP to cabinet as well, although not necessarily to Treasury Board.
A Liberal source, who was granted anonymity by The Globe because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the matter, said a possible replacement for Mr. Brison is Bernadette Jordan, who represents the Nova Scotia riding of South Shore-St. Margarets and is a parliamentary secretary.
With a report from Robert Fife