Babies, beer and blurry photos: MP Christmas card surprises

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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OTTAWA - Santa hats, Christmas trees, loving families, messages of cheer - and a beer-drinking soldier?
This year's batch of holiday cards from MPs has all the traditional political requisites, and a few surprises.
International Trade Minister Stockwell Day couldn't resist having fun and pun with his growing family and the Conservative government's economic stimulus plan.
Among the 20 or so Day family members featured on the front of his Christmas card is his newest grandchild. Day declares: "Another baby . . . now it's 13 . . . Stimulus Package Working!"
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also went the family route, albeit on a much smaller scale. His card shows a smiling suit-clad Harper strolling with his wife, son and daughter against an artificial background of snowflakes.
Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean chose real snow for her background, bundling up in a parka with her husband and daughter for a picture beside the Northwest Passage in Resolute Bay, Nunavut. The tundra behind her is vast and flat - and apparently devoid of seal meat.
The real party up north appeared to be with Defence Minister Peter MacKay. MacKay, who recently announced his engagement, bucked the family trend and opted to pose with a group of soldiers in Yellowknife.
It's all military efficiency in the front row of the picture with MacKay in a red collared T-shirt surrounded by soldiers in green camouflage uniforms. But in the back, it's bottoms-up, where a serviceman is quenching his thirst with what appears to be a beer bottle.
MacKay wasn't the only MP with booze in the background. New Democrat Charlie Angus's card shows him in a Santa hat with a group enjoying the Santa Claus Parade in Timmins, Ont. Right behind them: the Algoma Tavern.
Industry Minister Tony Clement's card suggests he has Ottawa on his mind all year long - and that he could use a better camera for Christmas. His card features a blurry photo of his family of five wearing T-shirts and sandals in a summertime picture taken on Muskoka chairs, with his daughter sporting a Santa hat.
The vast majority of cards feature family. Liberal Larry Bagnell livened up his card with a piano-playing baby, while Justin Trudeau cuddled up with his wife and two small children in white woolies.
And a smiling Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff hugs his wife and wishes his constituents "warm regards and all good wishes."
The card that caused the most stir this holiday season was sent out by Liberal Scott Brison. It shows Brison with his same-sex spouse Maxime St. Pierre posing in a golden field with their golden retriever.
That was too much for "a handful of bigots," said the Nova Scotia MP.
"The overwhelming response has been very positive," Brison said from Windsor, N.S. "There's always a very, very tiny minority of bigots."
The Globe and Mail website had to temporarily shut down its comments section due to "hateful and homophobic remarks" after running a story about the card.
Brison is one of the few openly gay members of Parliament. He married his partner in 2007, two years after same-sex marriage became legal in Canada. He easily won re-election last year.
It's the first time the couple has sent out a Christmas card together. Brison insists there was no political message behind the holiday greeting.
"It's a personal card," he said. "I'm not the first politician to have a family picture on a Christmas card . . . I'm looking forward to the day when this is seen as no big deal."

Organizations: International Trade, Algoma Tavern, Globe and Mail

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Northwest Passage, Resolute Bay Nunavut Yellowknife Timmins Muskoka Windsor Canada

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