Paul Szabo’s busiest day in recent memory began right at 12:01 a.m. It was Dec. 13, 2007, a matter of hours before his months of hard work as chair of the federal ethics committee on the Mulroney-Schreiber affair would culminate with a significant milestone. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney was set to take the stand. “This was very, very important, and it had to be done well,” says the Liberal MP for Mississauga South.
As night turned to day, Szabo was technically in bed, but he was up often, jotting in the notebook on his nightstand to help prepare him for the day ahead. “I saw every hour of the clock,” he says—and by the time he got up that morning, “I’d filled a pad of paper.” The hearing and media circus that followed kept Szabo buzzing until midnight, making for a workday almost 24 hours long. No wonder then, that for the third time running, he has been named the hardest-working MP in Canada.
According to fellow Liberal MP Dan McTeague, Szabo has a unique propensity to “roll up his sleeves and get into the earth.” Since arriving on the Hill in 1993, he has introduced 40 private members’ bills and ranked among the most vocal MPs in the House. Passionate about family issues, he led the charge to double parental leave benefits and impose tougher sentences for domestic violence, and has written books on fetal alcohol syndrome and child poverty. Says longtime staffer Irene Corridore, “I don’t understand where he gets his energy.”
For his part, Corridore suspects that her boss doesn’t realize that the 14-hour days and endless commitments “set him apart.” Says McTeague, “That’s just Paul Szabo.”