Profiles of a possible (Conservative) Leader: Peter Mackay
This is the second of two posts looking into the candidates running to replace Andrew Scheer as the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Last post I looked at Dr. Lewis and in today’s post I’ll look at former Minister and last Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada Peter Mackay.
In 2017, Peter Mackay watched from the sidelines as 13 Conservatives vied for the leadership of the party he helped create, the Conservative Party of Canada. In the years between deciding not to run in the 2015 election Peter Mackay has set his sights on Bay Street in Toronto and his family.
As a co-founder of the present-day Conservative Party of Canada, Mackay did not run for the leadership and he did not endorse any candidate for the party leadership.
What is memorable about Mackay in this leadership race is what was said leading up to it, not during it. In a post-election panel event, he spoke the words ‘stinking albatross’ when referring to the election results of October 21, 2019. Was he wrong or was he right with those words? Perhaps that is what this leadership campaign is all about; the ability of the Conservative Party of Canada to form government and how the beliefs of a strong portion of the party base reflect the values and how Canadian voters see that.
I supported Peter Mackay for the PC Party of Canada leadership in 2003 and saw him speak at his first event after winning that leadership at the New Edinburgh Boast Club for the annual Ottawa Vanier PC Lobster Dinner.
Now he’s running for the leadership of the party he co-founded with Stephen Harper, he is looking to be the ‘uniter’ of the party once more. It appears that the Opposition Conservative Caucus agrees as 59 Conservative MPs have endorsed Mr. Mackay. I think it should be noted that with the merger of the parties as a ‘Progressive” Conservative he welcomed the more traditional conservatives to join him – something he may hope that Canadians will take notice of and support in an election.
Peter’s platform is conservative voter friendly, there isn’t a lot of controversy and it could be seen as something that swing voters could accept. What his and other platforms lack would be a clearer environmental plan. Voters rejected the Scheer environmental plan in the last election, I don’t know if Mackay thinks he could win a general election without a more substantial plan on the environment and climate change. I would suspect Canadians and more importantly Liberals would emphasize that Conservatives haven’t learned from 2019 on this issue.
He has one candidate he is focused on, former Cabinet colleague Erin O’Toole. While he doesn’t appear to have reached out to the supporters (that I have noticed) of Leslyn Lewis or Derek Sloan, he does mention issues like the conscience right of medical practitioners not to assist in medically assisted deaths on his website.
What Mackay should be worried about is second and third ballot support if he doesn’t have the numbers to win on a first ballot. Mackay seems to have unwittingly taken on the burden that Maxime Bernier had in 2017, of not having enough down ballot support to take it all.
Unlike Bernier, Mackay does have something that perhaps Party members and Canadians want; a Leader they can support to defeat Justin Trudeau, a Conservative Leader that can earn the support centre-left voters that are tired of Trudeau his mistakes, his leaning into NDP policy and his personal ethics violations.
With Peter Mackay, Conservatives know who they may have as a leader of the party, it will be up to the members to decide if they like what they see. I encourage you to visit www.petermackay.ca before you complete your ballot and send it back to the party to make sure it arrives in Ottawa before August 21st.