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Saturday, October 01, 2005

MacKay's future

The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reports that Peter MacKay is weighing his options and wants to talk to several people, including, among others, his father, former federal cabinet minister, Elmer MacKay. The paper reports that MacKay has at least one prominent backer: fellow federal MP Bill Casey.

Scott Armstrong, vice-president of the provincial Tories, says that the likelihood of MacKay running is 50-50. He says: “I think he’s truly considering this ... If I had to bet, I think you might see him enter the race.” Although I normally don't trust "high-level Conservative staffers," or at least the journalistic use of them, I agree with one such person's view of MacKay's flirting with the Nova Scotia Tory leadership: "If you had the choice between giving a speech at the Toronto Economic Club or the Pugwash Firehall, where you going to go? Peter likes the limelight. I think what he’s doing is keeping this thing alive just to keep his profile up.”

MacKay desperately wants to be prime minister. Those who think that MacKay has been loyal to Stephen Harper, such as the commenters to Greg Staples' post on caucus criticism of MacKay (and perhaps even Greg himself), are seriously mistaken. MacKay is going to places like Cambridge (to use Greg's example) and supporting candidates across the country to shore up support for his own future federal Conservative leadership run, not to help shore up support for Harper. All MacKay's hard work will have been wasted, though,  if he makes the jump to provincial politics.

MacKay will only run to replace departing Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm if he has determined there is no possibility of winning the Tory leadership or, possibly, if it looks like Conservative fortunes are rebounding and Harper might not be leaving soon enough for MacKay's liking.

Posted by Paul Tuns on October 1, 2005 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink


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I have heard this a few times since moving to Ottawa from the West:

"I would vote for the Conservatives if Peter MacKay was their leader".

That statement of course, means exactly nothing. What people who say that are really saying is:

"I'm going to vote Liberal again, and claiming that the Tories don't have the right leader is the best excuse I can come up with for doing so."

It may be that Peter can attract a few more "moderate" voters. It is just as likely that he has continued to scare moderates away. Everytime he stresses the idea that "Conservatives must be moderate", he leaves the impression that the party is home to a bunch of salivating extremists who are being held back only by himself and a handful of other former PC-ers.

Only when the Tories completely STOP worrying publicly about whether or not they are moderate enough will Canadians stop worrying about it. And MacKay will not stop talking moderation, because it suits his personal ambition to keep that fear alive.

Posted by: Raging Ranter | 2005-10-02 1:41:02 AM

You nailed it, Raging Ranter. Leadership by McKay would represente a full circle return to Mulroney-esque Conservativism. There's a lot of attention paid to those in the mush middle who would be just fine with that, but we know from the last 15 years that the CPC shouldn't take its core support for granted.

Two things I've always liked about Harper: he thinks and he's had pretty much an average Canadian upbringing. One get's the sense that when these characteristics are considered, McKay more resembles the leaders of the other major political parties (attention seeking plutocrats) than most of the cons in this country.

Posted by: Owen | 2005-10-02 8:24:04 AM

I think it's naive to suggest that politicians shouldn't be out for themselves all the time. Because they always are. Of course MacKay wants to be PM amd is milking this for all he can get.

As for CPC core support, what has Harper done to earn it? Constitutional amendments to make Canada more like Belgium? Transit tax rebates? Qualified support for Kyoto?

One devil is as bad as the other.

Posted by: Disagree | 2005-10-02 8:58:07 AM

Can't you support the current leader and build for a future leadership campaign at the same time?

Posted by: Greg Staples | 2005-10-02 9:47:33 AM

You can do both of course, but MacKay's support has been lukewarm at best. I'll admit he's much improved since the Belinda bomb dropped, but I still remember his hissy-fit to the press at the convention last March. Instead of keeping his head on his shoulders and calmly working the floor to defeat the proposal, he threw an on-camera tantrum (with Belinda in tow parroting her ad hoc soundbites).

Posted by: Raging Ranter | 2005-10-02 10:54:46 AM

Its very obvious that the Ontario/Quebec politicians don't want the Western part of this country to be anything other than"hewers of wood and drawers of water".The thought of any party OTHER than the Liberals will NEVER be accepted as a ruling party.
Ontario is the BAD canadian as they will always be Liberal in their voting.....the perks are just too powerful to ignor,they don't care about this country,only the two provinces that have the most people.

Posted by: barb smith | 2005-10-02 11:15:33 AM

Peter Mckay is likable - he is a prep school type guy and he has that preppie charm and a very friendly smile. He is a million miles behind the superior intelligence and the rock solid charactor of Mr. Harper but if he would stop dragging out his 'affair' with Broomhilda and grow up I think he would be a great asset to any company or political party. Peter is still too 'starstuck' with the magna millions to consider seriously for provincial leadership material BUT if he could get his emotional life in order I believe the rest would shape up. Mr. Harper has been very patient with Peter's emotional ups and downs but he (Peter) should not push the Conservatives or Mr. Harper too much more. The western conservative supporters would leave the Conservative Party in a heartbeat if some kind of eastern group attempted to oust Mr. Harper - and suceeded - the west would be busy clearing out of the country.

Posted by: jema54 | 2005-10-02 3:37:26 PM

The fact that Mr. Harper is the CPC's leader is the only thing that keeps this Albertan interested in federal politics at all. All of the Calgarians I know would focus singularly on provincial politics if MacKay were CPC leader.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-10-02 3:54:00 PM

If all the doubters could just bring themselves to show confidence in Harper for the next election, they might surprise themselves with how well we do. And, Harper has never been one to close the door on the former PC-ers; despite media reports to the contrary. Many of them would find themselves in positions of influence in a Harper cabinet. He appointed Peter deputy leader didn't he? But nah, we're Conservatives. Let's just shoot ourselves in the foot again with petty bickering and intra-party warfare. Why break with tradition?

Posted by: Raging Ranter | 2005-10-02 5:07:48 PM

You may be surprised how many in Ontario would abandon a party headed up by Bernard Lord or MacKay for that matter if Harper
was pushed out by some back-room Eastern machinations. Reform / United Alternative still has resonance in Ontario despite what MSM would have us believe.

Posted by: Joe Molnar | 2005-10-02 5:30:40 PM

Joe Molnar, I will never vote Progressive again. Liberal, Tory, same old story. Being Reform meant never again having to say you're Tory!

Wake me when there is some real liberty /democracy offered. Private property, justice, individual rights, government accountability, ability to sue the Crown and It's agents, trial by jury in litigation, anti-trust legislation, open books, freedom of speech, immigration reform, border control, haebius corpus, revocation of the FOIP Act, decentralization of power, rollback of the police state.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-10-02 8:00:02 PM

There always seemed to be more of an opportunist in Mr. MacKay than in Mr. Harper. He has a certain knack; somehow his up-to-the-last-minute soul-intimacies with she-who-crossed-the-floor imbued him with a certain heroism afterwards, even if it brought her a certain play-book.

The old eastern Conservative party, the remnants of which seem to be trying to pop a tent again, was not substantively different in approach than the current Liberals -- there was just a lot less money laundering and so on. Any CPC MP who wants to garner leadership support from the old party has probably lost it already to the Liberal party.

So MacKay needs to show not that he is electable, but that he is the man to lead conservatives in this country. Based on what we've seen so far, I wouldn't count on it.

Posted by: EBD | 2005-10-05 12:25:17 AM

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