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05 2011

Boy, Does This Guy Love Politics

Syndicated from: Steve Paikin

I'm not sure I know anyone who loves politics as much as Arthur Milnes. Milnes grew up in Scarborough, worked at the Ontario Legislature, went into journalism as well, and somehow, through his travels, has become friends or acquaintances with an array of past presidents and prime ministers, including Jimmy Carter, Brian Mulroney, George H. W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Paul Martin, and the list goes on. In fact, he worked closely with Mulroney and did all the research for the 18th prime minister's autobiography, which was an excellent read. Milnes is now chairing a special commission hoping to galvanize national interest in the upcoming bicentennial of John A. Macdonald's birth, a perfect gig for a Kingstonian (Macdonald's home riding) who loves political history. Some people collect stamps.  Others hockey cards.  Milnes has a different passion. He's on a quest to get every living Canadian prime minister to plant a tree in his backyard in Kingston, and he's already managed to sign up three of them to the cause.   Paul Martin and Arthur Milnes look at the tree planted by Canada's 17th prime minister, John Turner.   The first was John Turner in 2006. Then Paul Martin planted another last year. And just a week ago, Joe Clark added his name to the list.   Joe Clark became the third prime minister to plant a tree in the Milnes backyard.   "I think it is very cool that in Canada our leaders would do this for a pair of history-minded citizens," Milnes says, referring to himself and his wife, teacher Alison Bogle.       Arthur Milnes, speaking at Paul Martin's tree-planting ceremony in May, 2010.   In fact, Milnes and Clark also visited Sir John A's grave during Clark's recent sojourn to Kingston.  "No one else was in the graveyard and it was quite an honour for me to discuss Macdonald with one of the rare Canadians who had actually held the office that Sir John A. created," Milnes says.   The name plate at the base of the tree planted by Canada's 21st prime minister.   With the bicentennial of Macdonald's birth coming up in the year 2015, Milnes hopes many more prime ministers will come to Kingston to see the first PM's gravesite, and maybe, just maybe, plant a little piece of history in his backyard at the same time.

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