Scott Brison Resigns, Student Vote May Decide Riding

Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison has resigned as President of the Treasury Board and will not run as the Liberal candidate in the 2019 election . He has been an active member within the community for nearly 22 years, most recently winning Kings-Hants in the 2015 election with 71% of the vote. On January 10th Brison announced his resignation as President of the Treasury Board from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet due to personal reasons and to focus on his family .

Brison was first elected in 1997 in Kings-Hants as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. He was described as a Progressive Conservative “Young Turk” for his youthful outlook on politics. In 2000, Brison resigned as an MP to allow former Prime Minister Joe Clark to take his seat in Commons. He was then appointed as co-chair of the Tories, Election and Policy Platform Committee and then proceeded to become the vice-president of investment banking at Yorkton Securities in Toronto.

In 2003, Brison crossed the floor to sit as a Liberal MP after the merger of the Progressive Conservatives and Canadian Alliance into the Conservative Party of Canada. Throughout Brison’s political career he had sparked attention for being the first openly gay member of Parliament. This was significant for young people, especially around Acadia University’s campus.

Brison has consistently encouraged young people to get involved without fear. His resignation received large support from the community, but many were surprised by the news. It was rumored that Brison was going to take a smaller role within local politics, but in recent interviews Brison had expressed that was not the case, stating that his resignation is a family decision and will allow him to try a different path other than politics.

“I’m not leaving federal politics to jump into [more] politics,” he said. “My intention is to consider options and opportunities outside of politics.” Given Brison’s background – having graduated from Dalhousie University in commerce – it would not be surprising to see a new small business prosper within Kings-Hants.

With Brison choosing not to reoffer in October, there will be an opening for a new Liberal candidate in Kings-Hants. Acadia professor Dr. Andrew Biro had analyzed a possible switch from a Liberal riding to a Conservative one. Prior to 2003, Kings-Hants and the large majority of the Annapolis Valley had voted Conservative. 

The biggest issue to consider is how a future MP in the Kings-Hants riding could benefit students, as well as small businesses. Hannah Dawson-Murphy, a Conservative nomination candidate for West Nova and current Acadia student, had expressed desire “to see more attention on student issues in this election, and I would like to see more students involved in the political process.”

Dawson-Murphy noted how “the CPC’s plan is to stimulate the economy, help families prosper, and lower taxes, which will hopefully be attractive to students across Canada. As for Wolfville in particular, I think it’s important that the next MP for Kings-Hants works with small businesses and other industries that will grow the area and attract young people.” This could mean far more part-time jobs and co-op opportunities. Dawson-Murphy strongly emphasized that Kings-Hants needs an MP who actively listens to small business owners, families, and students.

Another Acadia politics professor, Dr. Erin Crandall, expressed the possibility of slightly different outcomes. “I anticipate that all three major federal parties (Liberals, Conservatives, and the New Democratic Party) will view this riding as competitive. It will make for a very exciting local election and one where Acadia students’ votes could play a decisive part in deciding the winner.” 

Conservative Party candidate for Kings-Hants Martha MacQuarrie did not immediately respond to The Athenaeum’s request for comment.

Josée Léger is a third year Politics student and News Editor of The Athenaeum