Harper's Replacements

Part One: Peter MacKay     Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

April 1st, 2013 |  J. Hodgson

In 2015 I predict that Stephen Harper will run and win the general election. I think the NDP and the Liberals will kill each other for the same voters and the Conservatives will tear through the middle with an even bigger majority than they currently have now.

What happens next?

I predict Harper will serve three out of four years and then step down. This will open up a leadership race within the Conservative Party. There will undoubtedly be many people lining up for the job, but there are a few front-runners.

Ten Reasons Peter MacKay Should Lead The Conservatives After Harper

1. Peter MacKay is one of the founding fathers of the Conservative Party of Canada.

It was his leadership that was instrumental in uniting the right. If it hadn’t been for his open, compromising consideration we’d still be stuck with the Liberals in power. Just as we think upon John A. MacDonald as the founder of the Tories, some day in hindsight, people will look back on the Harper/MacKay merger as the restoration of that grand brand.

2. He’s the only Member of Parliament under the Conservative banner who has the chops to lead. 

Sure there are many talented ministers and up-and-comers in the party, but Peter is a senior member with the right attributes to win both the leadership of the party and a general election. He’s got experience and a track record beyond his peers.

3. He’s got heart for the cause. 

He gave up a lucrative job working as a lawyer for a steel corporation in order to become a crown prosecutor. His motivation? He was tired of seeing scumbags walk away scott-free from the crimes they committed. That’s right...he left a corporate job in order to fight crime. How conservative is that? He’s one of the few MP’s who could honestly make more money in the private sector, but he keeps doing what he does because it’s what he believes in.

4. Have you seen his wife?

That's her on the left.

5. He’s from Nova Scotia. 

This will ensure a sweep of the Maritimes for the Tories and display a more neutral home geography in the eyes of the rest of the country. No Quebec/Ontario rifts or East/West issues. If his hometown advantage wins for the Tories the four currently held Maritime opposition seats, then all MacKay has to do is hold what Harper took in 2011 and he’s got a majority. (Accounting for the thirty new seats added in 2015)

6. He’s done a good job as Minister of National Defense. 

Remember ten years ago when the Liberals were sending our troops to the deserts of Afghanistan wearing forest green fatigues? We’ve come a long way.

MacKay’s critics do, however, lose their minds every time he takes a helicopter ride or the F-35 budget shifts. Who cares. It’s just mindless leftist grandstanding over nothing and MacKay laughs it off with ease. A necessary trait in a Conservative Prime Minister.

7. He purged the left-wing of the Progressive Conservative party. 

The out of date fringe leftists that were moving in on the PC party were sent packing when MacKay took over. His deal with David Orchard was simply strategy for course correction. By uniting the right, he offered a clear choice for party members. A right-of-centre national party, or something else. Many of the pretenders such as Orchard, Brison and Clark either faded away or joined the Liberals. 

8. Peter MacKay’s less partisan nature will be a welcome change of tone after Harper sorts out Ottawa. 

Don’t get me wrong...I love the fact that Harper “gets it” in regards to the liberal agenda. The last thing we need as a country is another Mulroney-style “Hey guys, do you love me or what?” Conservative leader. The left will shred any conservative minded politicians if they display anything less than Nixonian guile and brass knuckle instincts. The difference in 2019 will be: optics and content.

1. Optics. MacKay would be squaring off against Justin Trudeau. JT is the friendly-boy icon of the left. All haircut and impish smile. After fourteen years of Stephen Harper’s more strident style, the electorate will have an appetite for change and a younger, more extroverted leader will be necessary to fill that need.

2. Content. After fourteen years of Harper’s strident style, Canada won’t need Harper-styled stridency anymore. Margaret Thatcher was an example of this situation. Great Britain needed to be great again and Thatcher made it happen with enormous amounts of hard work and strident ideological implementation. At the ten year mark, people looked around and the problems she set out to solve had been solved and the economy had been fixed. It was time for a change.

When Harper finishes his job crushing entrenched left-wing ideology and undoing Pierre Trudeau’s Canada, we’ll have a new set of problems. This will require a new set of political leaders that need not follow exactly the same path as those that came before.

9. He will be the Justin Trudeau that people won’t feel uneasy about.

Justin Trudeau is bound to lose the 2015 election and the stage will be set for 2019. By this time Justin will have been opposition leader for six years and at the age of 48, he’ll be seasoned and ready for a new page in the book of Canadian politics.

This is precisely where Peter MacKay comes in.

He offers the same boyish, athletic, extroverted presence and charisma as Justin Trudeau. Many of the criticisms against Trudeau were similar to the ones launched against Peter MacKay. Peter can turn these traits and criticisms into an advantage by offering the people of Canada a less risky conservative version of Justin Trudeau.

With a glamorous wife and a rugged background as Minister of National Defense, he will strike the same chord amongst people who may be willing to vote for Justin, but are unsure about the Liberal party’s zany leftist potential.

10. He’s a team player. 

When he faced outrageous criticism for selling out the PC Party, he kept his head up and remained a team player. When Harper didn’t include him the way he thought he’d be included during the early years after the merger, he remained a team player. When the party hit rocky patches such as the coalition threat or the “scandal-of-the-week” opposition grandstanding in 2011, he remained a team player. When presented with opportunities to leave politics he stayed on board as a team player.
All this team building is effectively creating an army of supporters and goodwill amongst conservatives. People trust him because of his loyalty and dedication.

Peter will be facing some strong opponents when the time comes, but his long game strategy is going to position him as a favourite amongst colleagues and party members alike.

Next month we’ll reveal ten reasons another contender might take the mantle.

Stay tuned....