Canada minister mocked for demanding golden cards

Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:26pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian opposition legislators mocked Foreign Minister John Baird on Friday after it emerged he had demanded gold-embossed business cards at a time when the government is pushing the need for austerity.

The news - revealed by an access to information request by the Canadian Press - broke as Canada's governing Conservatives prepare to slash billions of dollars in spending to eliminate the budget deficit.

Baird gained an exemption from government rules that ban gold-embossed cards as too expensive.

Scott Simms of the opposition Liberals compared Baird to "Goldmember," the gold-obsessed fictional villain in the satirical Austin Powers movie of the same name, as he described how Baird decided "how to just order around government resources."

"Would the Honorable Goldmember please rise and answer to this?" he asked Baird in the House of Commons.

Baird laughed off the attacks, saying opposition parties, once interested in more important matters, were now "dealing with $400 ($385) worth of business cards." He did not address why he had wanted gold-embossed cards.

Opposition parties say the affair reflects what they say is the arrogance of the Conservatives, who have been in power since early 2006 and won their first majority government in the May 2 election this year.

"It's actually symbolic of a much bigger rot within this government and a total disrespect for Canadian taxpayers at a time when Canadian families are struggling," Scott Brison of the Liberals told reporters later.

($1=$1.04 Canadian)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)

<p>Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa September 30, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>