A roast and a trib­ute

Port de Grave MHA Roland But­ler puts him­self in the fir­ing line for a good cause

The Compass - - NEWS - BY TERRY ROBERTS edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

They mocked his weight, his pen­chant for Chi­nese food and his on­a­gain, off-again di­ets.

But in the end it was just as much a trib­ute as it was a roast as Port de Grave MHA Roland But­ler put him­self in the fir­ing line last month to help raise money for the Shearstown Lions Club.

Po­lit­i­cal al­lies, op­po­nents and friends took turns tak­ing ver­bal shots at But­ler on Sept. 25 dur­ing a fundrais­ing roast that saw some nearly peo­ple file into a jam-packed hall.

By the end of the evening, more than $5,000 was counted, enough to put a “good dent” into the cost of buy­ing new chairs for the ser­vice club, or­ga­niz­ers say.

In what was an evening filled with laugh­ter and good-na­tured rib­bing, But­ler took it all in stride, and man­aged to get in a few shots of his own at the end of the evening.

He was ac­cused of sin­gle-hand­ily forc­ing the clo­sure of a res­tau­rant in St. John’s be­cause he would eat too much at the buf­fet.

“ He ate them out of house and home,” joked Bay Roberts Mayor Glenn Lit­tle­john, one of five roast­ers who went be­fore the podium. Lit­tle­john, a Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive, was also But­ler’s main op­po­nent in the 2007 pro­vin­cial elec­tion, los­ing by roughly 300 votes.

There were sto­ries about But­ler in Speedo swim shorts on a beach in Florida, and ac­cu­sa­tions from Con­ser­va­tive Sen­a­tor Fabian Man­ning that But­ler is a “closet Tory.”

Man­ning stole the show with a se­ries of hi­lar­i­ous sto­ries, in­clud­ing a tale of But­ler stand­ing naked in front of a full-length mir­ror at home, with his wife Maude.

But­ler was feel­ing de­pressed about his weight and sag­ging frame, and asked Maude to say some­thing pos­i­tive about him, to which she sup­pos­edly replied: “ There’s noth­ing wrong with your eye­sight, any­way.”

For­mer long-time Lib­eral MHA Tom Lush sug­gested that But­ler could re­ally pull his weight, which he de­scribed as a “ hu­mon­gous job.”

He also praised But­ler as be­ing a self-made man. “ Just look at him,” Lush dead­panned.

In­terim Lib­eral Leader Kelvin Par­sons re­called an in­ci­dent in the leg­is­la­ture when But­ler was hav­ing a “ Lean Cui­sine” for lunch. Par­sons said it was the only time he ever saw But­ler con­trary.

“ I can as­sure you that hav­ing Roland But­ler go into the House of Assem­bly with only a Lean Cui­sine is not go­ing to cut it,” said Par­sons.

While the teas­ing was ex­pected, the level of praise for But­ler was more gen­er­ous than his am­ple waist­line.

The fact that But­ler vol­un­teered to be the re­cip­i­ent of more than an hour of pub­lic ridicule is sym­bolic of his char­ac­ter, said Lit­tle­john.

“ He’s a hu­man­i­tar­ian and a true friend,” Lit­tle­john of­fered.

He called But­ler an “un­sung hero” who does not seek ac­co­lades, and a true gen­tle­man.

Lush de­scribed But­ler as “one of the finest I’ve ever met,” and long­time Lib­eral or­ga­nizer and friend Kevin Hussey said But­ler is “one of the best MHA’s to ever walk in shoe leather.”

Hussey said very few peo­ple know the sac­ri­fices that But­ler has made over the years to help those in need.

“A lot of chil­dren would have went with­out if not for Roland,” Hussey said. “He’s al­ways been a friend to the poor.”

Added Lit­tle­john: “ You’ve done us all proud, Roland.”

For­mer Port de Grave MHA John Ef­ford was sched­uled to be a roaster, but was un­able to at­tend be­cause of a fam­ily com­mit­ment, or­ga­niz­ers said.

But­ler has al­ready an­nounced he will re­tire from pol­i­tics and will not seek re-elec­tion in the Oc­to­ber 2011 elec­tion. But he vowed to keep work­ing hard for his district and the prov­ince un­til his very last day on the job.

“Aunt Nancy,” a.k.a. Nancy French of Port de Grave, put the au­di­ence into a fit of laugh­ter af­ter she made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance.

Port de Grave MHA Roland But­ler and his wife, Maude, wait for the next round of ver­bal jabs dur­ing a roast at the Shearstown Lions Club last month.

They may be on op­po­site sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, but Bay Roberts Mayor Glenn Lit­tle­john (left), Port de Grave MHA Roland But­ler and Con­ser­va­tive Sen­a­tor Fabian Man­ning share a mu­tual re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion for each other.

Bay Roberts Mayor Glenn Lit­tle­john, who un­suc­cess­fully chal­lenged Roland But­ler in the 2007 elec­tion, called But­ler a “true gen­tle­man.”

Long-time Lib­eral party sup­porter Kevin Hussey de­scribed But­ler as the best MHA to ever wear shoe leather.

In­terim Lib­eral Leader Kelvin Par­sons joked about Roland But­ler’s en­counter with a Lean Cui­sine.

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