Mitchel Raphael on cross-border babymaking and wives’ last names

Capital diary

Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

Brison looking for eggs

In May 2011, Scott Brison announced he wouldn’t be running for the Liberal leadership, saying he wanted to start a family. Now, the Nova Scotia MP is one step closer to having a child. Brison and his husband, Maxime St. Pierre, have found a surrogate mother in Los Angeles. They now need to find a donor for the eggs. He would not say whether he has approached any female members of his or St. Pierre’s family. The egg source, he says, is a private affair. Brison says the process does not allow the surrogate to use her own eggs. The MP says both he and his partner will fertilize eggs and that several will be implanted into the surrogate. There is a chance they could have more than one child. The couple is hoping to become fathers a year from now. Whether the offspring will have the last names of Brison-St. Pierre or St. Pierre-Brison has yet to be determined.

In Canada, the laws around surrogacy are often described as murky. A woman cannot be paid for being a surrogate but she can be compensated for costs. Paying for donor eggs is illegal in Canada.

Brison became the first MP to marry a same-sex partner in 2007. The wedding ceremony was attended by former PMs Paul Martin and Joe Clark. Brison and St. Pierre live in Cheverie, N.S., a town of about 200. Brison often jokes that the “Cheverie gay Pride parade” is whenever the two of them decide to walk to a local store.

It’s Mrs. Mulcair

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s wife says she does not understand why the media keep referring to her as Catherine Pinhas. “I have always been Mrs. Mulcair,” she says. “I sign my name Catherine P. Mulcair.” Political spouses surnames have a mixed history in Ottawa. Laureen Harper was Laureen Teskey before Stephen Harper became Prime Minister. Former PM Joe Clark’s wife, Maureen McTeer, famously kept her last name after the two married in 1973. Stéphane Dion’s wife, Janine Krieber, kept her last name, which, she joked, made for interesting times in Ottawa while her husband was leader of the Opposition. When she made dinner reservations under her own last name it caused some surprise among restaurant staff when the then-Liberal leader showed up.

The mud flies

Mark Eyking is ready for Thanksgiving. The Cape Breton Liberal MP and farmer was given his marching orders by his wife, Pam Eyking, to take care of the turkeys in the backyard before Parliament resumed. The MP says they had a great turkey growing season and the birds got big fast—so fast that they were flying over the backyard fence where he was keeping them. All 25 were taken to the abattoir and are now in his freezer. Eyking recently took part in the 99th annual International Plowing Match in Roseville, Ont. It was first time he ever ploughed with a horse. He has always used a tractor. The most impressive sight at the event was a square dance done with 60-year-old tractors. After a week of rain, there was mud flying everywhere. “I’m a country boy but I don’t square dance,” says Eyking.

Survey says . . .

Ontario Conservative MP Ed Holder has built up an email list of more than 20,000 people to keep them informed of his activities and to conduct informal polls. Every Wednesday he sends out a question and gets anywhere from 600 to 800 responses. He recently asked: “Do you agree with the government’s position to sever diplomatic ties with Iran?” Seventy-nine per cent said yes, 15 per cent said no and six per cent were unsure. He says that most of the time, the responses are way ahead of politicians on the issues. For example, the majority were against continuing to support the asbestos industry. Most of the people on the email list are from Holder’s London, Ont., riding, but not all. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney quipped to him, “Hey, how do I get off your mailing list?”

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