Red Flags Surround Peter Mackay
January 11th, 2020 | JH
To the surprise of no one, Peter MacKay is taking a run for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Personally, I used to think this would be a good thing for the country. I had been a fan of MacKay ever since the merger of the PCs and Alliance and I thought the guy had a lot of terrific qualities that would make for a good Prime Minister.
However, his experience comes with baggage and his accomplishments are viewed by some as liabilities. There are some legitimate red flags Conservative Party supporters should consider before casting their vote. Red flags that surprised me.
A lot of people seriously loathe Peter MacKay.
I was talking to my Mom about the leadership candidates and, when Peter MacKay was mentioned, she recoiled in disgust the same way she did when Michael Ignatieff was the Liberal leader. She thinks he’s a dirtbag and she’s not alone. Many conservatives have a dismissive view of MacKay. They never quite articulate what it is about the guy they don’t like, but they know they don’t like him.
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This is a huge problem. If a large segment of conservatives don’t like the guy without being able to say why, then their opinion is likely irrational and unreasonable. They just have a gut instinct . Perhaps this is manufactured through media exposure or general impressions from long ago events, but if the general vibe is not approved of, it makes that opinion very difficult to overcome with any sort of convincing. Since so much of our politics these days is superficial and personality-driven, it will make a MacKay victory very difficult.
What could be some of the specific problems people have?
I’ve noticed his detractors tend to point out a handful of incidents. The first being his sell-out of the PC party to Harper’s Alliance in 2003. He did this after securing the leadership of the PC Party by promising David Orchard (the runner up candidate) that he would never merge the PC and Alliance parties. I would argue that MacKay didn’t have a choice. The party was bankrupt and was unable to properly contest the 2004 election. He made a calculated decision and had to break a promise as a result. For many people, it’s just a matter of principle. They think MacKay is demonstrably an untrustworthy liar.
The second thing I’ve heard is that his break-up with Belinda Stronach and her crossing the floor to the Liberals back in the day made him look like a pussy. He did a television reaction-interview outside in the drizzly rain while gardening with his neighbour’s dog or something. I think the organizers of that photo session were trying to position him as a sympathetic victim, but the whole ordeal made some people view him as a cuck.
It’s difficult to shake the reputation of being a cuck.
The third thing people get bent out of shape about is the helicopter ride. MacKay used a search and rescue helicopter to transport him back to work after a vacation in the Maritimes. This was spun by the liberal media as a horrific abuse of national resources. They made it sound like he was jeopardizing lives by commandeering this vehicle for personal use. This was all courtesy of the liberal media making mountains out of molehills during the Harper era. Remember Bev Oda’s expensive orange juice or Harper’s armoured limousines in India?
The truth is MacKay needed a quick ride back to work and as Minister of National Defense at the time the helicopter was able to take him there quickly. This also gave them the opportunity to get some flying time in and no lives were at risk because other resources were standing by. It was absolutely nothing, but the media made it out to be scandalous. Apparently, some conservatives took the bait and never let go, viewing MacKay as an entitled dilettante using the military for his vacation travel. Lame.
None of this is dealbreaker territory, though. In the Trump-era, these sorts of gotchas aren’t as effective as they used to be. The impressions are still there, however, and MacKay will have to do a lot of work reintroducing himself to the country.
There are, however, a few fundamental problems with MacKay that are beyond the realm of politics. One is that he seems to want this just a little too badly. That Mulroney-style, “I was born for this and it is my DESTINY!” attitude always seems to deliver catastrophic results, if not for the country, then for the person holding that attitude. Think Paul Martin or Brian Mulroney, how did they end up? Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon both had it too. Disastrous. Politicians, especially conservative politicians, tend to work best when they play it cool and don’t desperately crave the position. Ronald Reagan was an anomaly.
MacKay claimed that when he stepped away from politics in 2015, he did it so that he could spend more time with his family. His father was a politician and the demands of the career split up his family and he didn’t want that to happen to his kids. Well, he has three kids now… two of which aren’t even school aged. He’s got a hot wife and an even hotter career as a lawyer, I can’t imagine what he’s making right now. Why give all that up in order to shout at people in the House of Commons? Does he really want to sit on a bus travelling town to town like a circus clown making stump speeches about how shitty Trudeau is, day after day after day?
"They never quite articulate what it is about the guy they don’t like, but they know they don’t like him."
Andrew Scheer was burned out after the 2019 campaign and he lamented, more than once, the toll it all took on his family. He stepped down and put his family first. He can sit on the back benches and collect his cheque shouting at people in the House of Commons, and he doesn’t need to sacrifice everything that is truly meaningful in the process. Being the leader, or more specifically… the hood ornament of the party, is a lot more draining. Look at Trudeau. He’s just a mascot, and look at the price he’s paying for that?
The same problems that besieged his father are now afflicting him.
The role of political party leader and Prime Minister is best served by someone in their 60s. Someone with a ton of life experience and wisdom. Someone who can actually wield some power and not just be a dancing monkey. Someone without the responsibilities of teaching their children to read or get dressed properly. MacKay is an old Dad. He’s lucky to have what he has got. To risk his career and family, in order to grind out the nonsense of partisan politics, is insane. It’s a testament to egotism run amok. The main reason you know that this venture is based on egotism is…
MacKay doesn’t stand for anything. He wants to be Prime Minister for the sake of being Prime Minister.
We all know that the current crop of Liberals are sowing seeds of destruction in Canada that will take a generation to wipe out. The climate fetish, and the subsequent destruction of our natural resource extraction industries is a primary example of this. We need a Conservative victory if for no other reason than course correcting Liberal mistakes. Get rid of the carbon tax… sure. Restore business confidence… sure. Rearrange the tax structures… sure.
But what else?
The biggest problem the Conservative Party has right now is lack of vision. There is no goal on the horizon for us to reach out towards. The party is just the “Not Trudeau” party and the policy prescriptions are weak. Meanwhile, the progressive zeitgeist keeps pushing Canada in a more woke direction and the best the CPC can muster in opposition is a “Me too!” party with “Yes, but” policies.
Margaret Thatcher said that the problem with politicians is that too many of them want to be something and not enough of them want to do anything. Peter MacKay is the embodiment of this maxim. The guy loves showing up at events and shaking hands and being somebody. As his star from public life fades, he likely thinks it’s now or never if he wants to be somebody once more. But for the millions of Conservative voters that are hungry for solutions and big visions, MacKay is offering nothing but himself. Andrew Coyne wrote this scathing article upon MacKay’s departure and it actually holds up stronger today than ever before.
Right now, the Conservative Party needs to fight for relevancy. It hasn’t adjusted to the new normal. Andrew Scheer presented Harper 2.0 in a Trudeau 2.0 world and failed. If the Conservative Party is just going to try Harper 3.0, but with more Pride parade marching, then the party deserves to be annihilated. Is MacKay going to present a big vision? Is MacKay going to give us something to vote for?
I doubt it. I base this on the track record from the past. MacKay was Foreign Affairs Minister, Minister of National Defense and Justice Minister. At the time I thought he did a good job in everyone of these positions. Was I right?
Not really. The jobs all maintained their status quo, but where was the transformation? Our military under Harper/MacKay was not course corrected the way most Conservative supporters would have liked to have seen. MacKay’s time as Justice Minister was basically a failure, legislation just got knocked down by the Supreme Court. Even when the Conservative Party had a majority, cuckservatism was either adopted or forced upon them without much of a fight.
Will he fight?
That’s the question American conservatives are now asking when evaluating political contenders. What they learned from the failure of John McCain and Mitt Romney and were only able to articulate with the rise of Trump, was that conservatism needs to be muscular and fight worthy, otherwise it gets chewed up and spit out. The Harper strategy of fighting intelligently within the liberal frame doesn’t work anymore. Andrew Scheer tried it and it no longer worked. What we need is a Conservative that is willing to fight. (Although an even more black-pilled take on this is that Canada is an exceptionally weak nation thoroughly marinated in progressive orthodoxy. Even if we get a Conservative fighter, that fighter will be destroyed faster than you can say Stockwell Day. It’s a no-win situation, so… why even try?)
The only real option, though, is to fight, otherwise we’re stuck with the Cuckservative Party of Canada… Liberal, minus 10%. Better to fight assertively for something real than to whimper in hopes of having a turn to govern uselessly. Does MacKay care which path to take so long as he becomes Prime Minister? Does the fact that I have to ask the question answer itself?
My final take on MacKay is that he’s the wrong guy, in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is what characters in Die Hard movies tell John McClane just before he saves the day, so maybe all these problems will be spectacularly overcome by a Peter MacKay we have yet to see, but I doubt it. Why not become a graceful has-been and collect the law firm cheques? Play with your kids at the beach in Nova Scotia. Do meaningful work in your community. Let. It. Go.
Canada will chug along as it always does anyway… as a greyer USA, only 30% poorer and ten years behind. It doesn’t need Prime Minister Peter MacKay to solidify the mediocrity. MacKay can come calling again in a decade when he’s looking for a retirement hobby and his kids are in high school. Until then, leave the big chair for whatever mascot farts their way into it.
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