Who Replaces Peter MacKay?
I’ve been a Peter Mackay advocate for years. I wrote this a few years ago and this earlier this year. I think he’s got the right combination of qualities that would’ve made him a great successor to Harper. If Harper had stepped down in 2014 and MacKay had taken over, it may have undermined the irrational Harper Derangement Syndrome that seemed to grip the country in the last days of the campaign.
Nevertheless, MacKay would (and someday still may) be a good leader for the CPC. His time in office was spent mending foreign affairs, rebuilding the military (the army at least), and toughening up our justice system. His career was built around killing terrorists and locking up scumbags, yet somehow he retained the image of a “Red Tory” amongst the general population.
His “scandals” in office consisted of a socially conservative worded Mother's Day message, a helicopter ride, wearing a sweater with a gun on it, and tossing some papers on the floor. Pretty tame stuff for almost ten years in power.
Andrew Coyne wrote this a while back and criticized him for thin accomplishments, but trying to drag this parochial country towards greatness while 2/3rds of the population hates you for it, is a tall order for anyone. The Harper/MacKay era did far more good than harm and we’re already seeing moribund evidence in comparison to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
So why didn’t MacKay run?
The most likely explanation is the most commonly given one. Family.
The guy has a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. He’s also got a hot wife and a private sector law career at Baker & McKenzie that’s likely paying him over $700,000.00 a year. He’s going to take a 80% pay cut and spend his non-work time away from home talking in curling rinks to a couple of dozen farmers at eight in the morning about how the Liberals have a moderately higher tax structure than the Conservatives are proposing? I wouldn’t do it. I don’t blame him one bit.
So Peter, enjoy the sailboats and the sand castles and the backyard barbeques and leave the drudgery of shouting at Justin Trudeau in the HOC for the next three years to someone else that at least has the hunger for it. We’ll probably see you again sometime anyway.
So who WILL it be?
It should be Maxime Bernier. I think most writers on this site are in agreement with me on that. I’m probably the least libertarian of the bunch and I’m still going to be voting for him. He’s the total package for leadership. He’s good-looking, athletic and of a certain age. He’s a principled, free market, free-speech type of conservative and he’s from Quebec. He has the potential to make a conservative breakthrough in that province the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1958 or 1984. If he then holds what they have in the West, picks up a couple of dozen lost Ontario seats and brings back New Brunswick...then boom. Majority.
Kellie Leitch: Kellie Leitch lost my support when she fake cried on CTV news about the barbaric cultural practices hotline from the election in 2015. Now she’s back-tracked and gone all in on the Canadian identity thing. Seeing as how we already screen immigrants, she’s just stirring an empty pot. It’s cynical. (Although her policy idea about values is revealing the nature of other so-called conservatives in the party, depending on how they respond.)
Kellie seems to want the PMO simply to prove that she can get it. She reminds me of the Reese Witherspoon character from the movie Election. She just seems to want this a little too much. (Also...not sure the Brad Trost-supporting wing of the party is going to be too excited about the party being led by a woman with a short haircut.)
Brad Trost: Brad would be better suited to a mid-90’s Reform party. Old school social conservatives aren’t suitable leadership candidates anymore. Not because of their views, but because of their tactics. Stockwell Day proved that you need guile in order to navigate the Media Party bear traps. Social conservatism needs to be supplanted (but supported) by libertarianism. Brad Trost and the socon wing will put the party back into the 60-70 seat range of the late 90’s/early 2000’s.
Tony Clement: I don’t mind Tony, but am I going to wear a button that says, “Vote for Tony...I don’t mind him!”? No, I am not.
He also has some lame ideas. He thinks his savvy use of social media will attract millennials. Tony...social media is a graveyard for politics. I wrote about it here. You can’t Pinterest and SnapChat your way into the PMO. It doesn’t work like that.
Also, privatizing the CBC is a non-starter. Poletical’s Ryan Rados wrote about it here.
Michael Chong: Michael seems to think he’s a very sophisticated Conservative. My problem with him is that he seems to be a liberal or a progressive simply existing under the Conservative banner. His leftism seems to go beyond Red Tory status and fully over into progressive. A good link is an article written last month by Ryan Rados here.
#1. He made a big grandstanding show against Harper’s acknowledgement of Quebec as a “nation”. I thought Harper’s move was lame too, but it really wasn’t. It was Harper being savvy. Talk is cheap. He made a gesture that won him votes and cost him nothing. Chong didn’t get it.
#2. His weird Reform act seemed at the time to be a shot at Harper’s autocratic style. It was lame and, again, not savvy politics.
#3. He used leftist language to criticize Kellie Leitch’s Canadian values policy idea. You can criticize her all you want, but don’t adopt the progressive framing.
#4. He’s a climate thumper. He supported Kyoto and he wants a carbon tax.
#5. His whole platform seems to be wrapped up in, “I’m half-Chinese, and half-Dutch.” Identity politics is a lame progressive fetish. Not being fully white isn’t an accomplishment and nobody cares.
Chong veers dangerously close to Joe Clark territory. CINO (or Conservative in name only) is a big problem for established conservative parties everywhere. They attract some of the wrong people over time. I wrote about that problem here. We’ve seen it in Alberta with Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford. We need less of this type of hypocrisy, not more. Unless Chong brings more to his game from this point on, he’s going to rally an “anybody but Chong” vote among real conservatives.
Have I missed anyone?
That’s the race so far and let’s be honest, it’s probably as much as we’ll get. We might see Lisa Raitt hop into the field as Andrew Scheer just did, but I don’t have high hopes for either of them. (I did talk to a Lisa Raitt fan yesterday, so maybe I’m wrong on that.)
Conclusion: Peter MacKay would’ve been my first choice, but Maxime Bernier is a strong second. We may see MacKay again down the road if things don’t pan out over the next five or six years, but in the meantime...stay tuned.