The Minister of Swag

I had some fun with this story about Peter MacKay’s collected gifts during his time as Defence minister. I still can’t believe he got an autographed Joe DiMaggio baseball.

In looking through the conflict of interest database I couldn’t help but check out Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who ended up having quite an extensive gift list. Here are the gifts Baird has accepted just since the 2011 election:

– A Mikimoto picture from His Excellency Norihiro Okuda, ambassador of Japan. (June, 2013)

– Montblanc cufflinks from Dr. Guido Westerwelle, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Germany. (May, 2013)

– A box of Cohiba cigars from Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Cuban minister of foreign affairs. (February, 2013)

– A gift basket containing champaigne, wine and chocolate from United Arab Emirates ambassador Mohammed Saif Hilal Al Shihi. (December, 2012)

– An iPad from the United Arab Emirates’ government at a forum in Abu Dhabi (weirdly, this is the second time the UAE gave Baird an iPad. I guess they bought in bulk). (November, 2012)

– A Cashsecret from Laurent Fabius, France’s minister of foreign affairs (I had no idea what a Cashsecret was but judging from pictures it appears to be some sort of cashmere blanket thing that can fold into a pillow. Or maybe it’s just the pillow and the blanket part is separate. The blanket might be more of a rug, or maybe a sash. This is not my area of expertise). (October, 2012)

– Cutlery from Adnan Mansour, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Lebanon (Lebanon is probably one of those who give out apples at Halloween). (August, 2012)

– A Dunhill wallet from the Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Morocco in Hong Kong. (July, 2012)

– Cufflinks and a Cartier pen from Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah of Brunei. (July, 2012)

– A Graf von Faber-Castell organizer (your guess is as good as mine) from the Luxembourg minister of foreign affairs. (June, 2012)

– A tablecloth (seriously, a tablecloth?) from Japan’s minister of foreign affairs. (March, 2012)

– Two framed pictures (he doesn’t say of what, sadly) from Burma’s minister of foreign affairs.

– A Christmas gift basket containing a bottle of champagne, two bottles of wine and a book from the United Arab Emirates ambassador to Canada (what’s up with the UAE and Christmas baskets?). (December, 2011)

– A gold plated plate (I swear that’s verbatim) of the 805th anniversary of the Great Mongolian Empire (capitalization also verbatim) from Mongolia’s minister for mineral resources and energy. (December, 2011)

– A 64 GB Applie iPad from the government of the United Arab Emirates. Baird donated the iPad to the department of Foreign Affairs. (November, 2011)

– A glass block with a city of Kuwait model inside from the Prime Minister of, you guessed it, Kuwait. During the same trip Baird also received a replica of a historical Kuwaiti fishing boat. (November, 2011)

– A “silver Celapa Malay traditional ornamental container embrossed with Brunei traditional motive” from Brunai’s minister of foreign affairs. (September, 2011)

The list keeps going (and going) but I’ve only got so much time. The moral of the story appears to be that if you’re into wine, chocolate and iPads get yourself to the United Arab Emirates. That said, sometimes patrons can be over-generous, particularly if they’re royalty. Ministers have to return gifts to the Canadian treasury if they’re valued at over $1,000.

In March of 2012 United Arab Emirates minister of foreign affairs Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan gave MacKay a painting by artist Najat Makki. In September of that year Nahyan gave MacKay a hand-knotted wool rug.

In both cases the gifts were deemed too valuable and were turned over to the government.

On June 4 of this year Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain gave MacKay a William & Son clock during a visit to Ottawa. This also was handed over to the treasury.

It’s no wonder there were so many rumours that Jason Kenney was rumoured to want the foreign affairs job so badly.