POLITICS

11 Questions For Tony Clement

10/01/2012 07:24 EDT | Updated 11/01/2012 03:12 EDT
Tony Clement

At times Treasury Board President Tony Clement seems better known for writing and regretting colourful tweets than as the man spearheading a whole-of-government review and thousands of federal job cuts.

Despite his casual nature, Clement, a former leadership rival to Stephen Harper, has tackled some of the Conservative government's biggest files: from dishing out billions in infrastructure and G8 spending in 2009 and 2010 to finding billions in federal savings in 2011.

So who is this Ottawa mover-and-shaker really? We asked Clement to tell us a bit more about himself.

11 questions

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I find doses of happiness in so many different things. I have family time that is precious to me, whether it's helping the kids with their homework or sampling new food with my wife. In office hours, I really like helping people, especially when they face bureaucratic obstacles. Music is big in my life, and to finally be learning guitar is joyous when I nail a chord progression in a favourite rock song.

I also get joy in our country: discovering a new beautiful corner, boating in a lake, or taking a quiet snowshoe through a forest.

Actually I believe there's lots to be happy about. Sure, we all have our share of challenges. But I'm an optimistic person in my core, and always find beauty and joy.

What is your greatest fear?

I fear the usual things, like failure. Although I've had to overcome that one in order to be in politics. In politics you must be prepared for setbacks as well as triumphs.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Deplore is not a word I use often. I have things I'd like to improve, like my home improvement skills. I always say I will take up gardening but never seem to. I should probably clear out a bunch of stuff, but I might need it some day!

What is your greatest extravagance?

Concert tickets or sporting events. Although it's a good way to spend time with friends and my kids.

On what occasion do you lie?

The worst lies are to oneself.

What made you decide to run for elected office?

Idealism. To change the world for the better. I felt an obligation in a sense, to act on things I believed in. No point grumbling about how bad things were, if you weren't willing to be part of the solution.

What is the one thing about politics you would change?

Most people would say "make it less negative," right? That would be good, but remember politics is also supposed to be the clash of ideas, so people are going to disagree vehemently. I recently read an excerpt from Cicero's brother, over 2,000 years ago, advising the great orator to go negative on his opponents!

So I will suggest something else: people should remember or relearn that politics is full of decent people trying to make a difference. Disagree with ideas and politics, but let's get the haters out of the chat rooms, twitter feeds and commentaries. And that includes the media commentariat...

When and where were you happiest?

Probably at university. I was dating my future wife, I could earn enough for tuition & rent, and we had all this time on our hands!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I have the obvious, like helping to raise three healthy & decent kids. As a Minister, it was doing what I could to help combat the SARS outbreak and reassure Canadians that we were going to beat that deadly virus. Some people appreciate other times of political leadership (auto rescue, pro consumer policies). Really it's not time for my epitaph yet so there's lots more I'd like to do...

Who are your heroes in real life?

Not superheroes then? Okay, Sir John A, of course. Churchill. Lincoln. All flawed people who transcended their shortcomings and saved the day.

How would you like to die?

Saving the world from evil? Or else quietly, watching The Empire Strikes Back for the 900th time...

What other notable Canadians would you like to see answer these 11 questions? Are you interested in taking part? Contact us with your suggestions.

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