, 01.15.2020 02:54 PM

Peter MacKay: he’s in

Does this mean Jean Charest is in or out?  Does this mean Team Mulroney is going elsewhere?  Does this mean Stephen Harper will not support anyone in the race, because none of them are him?

Who knows.  But he’s in, he says. Here’s a quickie take on MacKay, pro and con.


  • Was a senior Minister, seen as competent 
  • Helped unify the warring factions of the Right
  • Nice-looking family, nice guy
  • Crown prosecutor, smart lawyer
  • Knows how to raise dough
  • Knows the Atlantic region probably the best


  • Seen as too Red Tory by New Conservatives
  • Seen possibly as yesterday’s man
  • Seen as sometimes enjoying the high life a bit too much
  • Not seen as having a stand-out big achievement as Minister
  • Can be remarkably unremarkable sometimes
  • Why is he running?


  1. Miles Lunn says:

    Agree with all comments although seen as too Red Tory, if party takes this approach they should get used to losing. The base represents 30% of the population which is a sizeable chunk of the electorate but not enough to win on its own. I’ve often compared our Tories to UK Labour as while two parties are ideological opposites, both have same problem in that membership prefers ideological purity over electability which is why both lost two easily winneable elections. At least Tories here had a decent second place while UK Labour got crushed, but if Trudeau is not leader next time around, our Tories might not be so lucky, after all Labour did alright in 2017 when against May who was a weak leader, but crushed against Johnson who was much more popular.

    Only exception where ideological purity has worked is the GOP in US, but then again much to dismay of base, US is way more conservative than Canada. Canada is philosophically comparable to the bluest states in the US like Massachusetts, California, and New York and you cannot win those states on the standard Republican platform, you need to more centrist like Arnold Schwarznegger was and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts is. Only Alberta and Saskatchewan are somewhat comparable to red states and even then Alberta is more like Colorado of the north than Texas of the north, so even it is not nearly as right wing as base would like to believe it is.

  2. I hold no position in the MacKay leadership bid nor do I speak for the campaign, or Peter. However, you will understand that I won’t be free-wheeling in this race for obvious political reasons.

    I remember when many people thought, myself included, that Chrétien was yesterday’s man, and boy did he ever prove us wrong.

  3. The Doctor says:

    Most spot-on comment: “Can be remarkably unremarkable at times”. I’ve got nothing against PM, but he’s always struck me as a bit of an empty suit. Like, what does he actually stand for or believe in? I haven’t a clue really, and I’m a political junkie.

    He’d play better than Scheer, I’ll give him that. He’s smoother, more polished and doesn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights vibe that Scheer often had.

    Personally I’m very disappointed at the reports that Rona won’t be running. I think she’d make a great foil to Trudeau.

    • Ron Benn says:

      My take on the reports on Rona Ambrose not running were put in play by people who want to smoke her out.

      The challenges in lining up financial and backroom support are significant, and Rona Ambrose is the biggest variable. Until she commits one way or the other, the smart people (i.e. the one’s with the money and the connections) will sit on the sidelines. They do not want to commit to someone who they perceive as not standing a chance against Rona Ambrose. This is, or at least should be, an impediment to many of the pretenders.

  4. Robert White says:

    Peter MacKay has political gravitas, experience, notoriety via Harper Government branding but he is yesterday’s neoconservative that backed the Iraq War and George W. Bush/Republican plan for colonization of Iraq.

    MacKay is also an opportunist that undermined Andrew Scheer & support base via public criticism that did not help party solidarity. I would rather see Scheer running again as opposed to evidencing MacKay’s failure to incentivize & inspire the GTA millennial vote for party momentum.

    The Conservative Party has no possible chance of attaining helm unless they shift to Climate Change & Carbon Based Taxation plans of G7 partners.

    Conservatives don’t have anything to offer contemporary voters aside from their old platform planks that were repudiated for the last two elections.

    Red Tories that defected to the Liberal Party are likely to stay with the Liberals knowing that MacKay was responsible for dissolution of the federal PC Party.

    I most sincerely believe that the Conservative Party is far too outdated to attain the helm. The pendulum cannot swing towards fossil fueled free market economic plans as that era has shifted formally to Climate Change & Green Finance.

    Blackrock is the largest Hedge Fund in the world and they are shifting to Climate Change to follow Mark Carney’s UN Bank and the $23 trillion USD that it is currently stocked with waiting for the investment community to get onboard.

    MacKay is not hip to millennial gen focus on Climate Change whereas the Liberal Party is.

    GTA millennials will not vote for MacKay IMHO.

    BIG waste of focused investment.


  5. the real Sean says:

    Charest is the best candidate IMO. Hands down, no contest. I suspect Charest people will drift to McKay and vice versa as a second choice though. And Skippy? Love that guy on TV but if he won, the Tories may as well wave a surrender flag the morning after the convention. And Harper? Pls exercise that strategic brilliance you are so well known for, STFU and stay out of it FFS.

    • The Doctor says:

      Charest could lead to the founding of Reform Party 2.0 — which would be a Liberal Party wet dream come to life.

      • Miles Lunn says:

        Actually that would be good for the party long term as the demographics who Reform did best amongst are rapidly declining in numbers and most middle of road voters want nothing to do with those types. Even in Alberta, population is not as conservative as stereotype. In 2012 they had a choice between a Reform like party with Wildrose Party and more centrist PCs and choose latter. In 2015 again, chose to go left to NDP and PCs got more votes than Wildrose so those types are loud on social media but have limited appeal amongst general population.

      • Doc,

        That cuts both ways, Doc. If the leader is perceived to be too far right, PCP types come eventually decamp to the Liberals. Soooo, it’s in the party’s long-term interest to pick centrist.

  6. PJH says:

    A fair assessment of Mr. McKay, methinks…This Red Tory is happy to have Mr. MacKay in…though I could be just as happy to see M. Charest as leader….This is going to be as tough as Sophie’s Choice.
    Who I don’t want: Poilievre….it will be many more years in the wilderness with him at the helm. Smart, articulate, fluent in both official languages, Alberta born but now in Ottawa, heavy weight backers, relatively attractive, family man….but he just rubs me(and many others) the wrong way….I want electability, and he ain’t it…..

  7. Douglas W says:

    Who do the Liberals fear?
    MacKay? Poilièvre? Charest?
    Most likely, none of the above.
    Because when the Liberals lose, it’s because of themselves.
    Not the competition.

    • Douglas,

      The best politicians and strategists think out of the box. And that means, any candidate can upset the political apple cart. Trudeau came out of nowhere and proved that in 2015. Some of us saw it beforehand. Most didn’t.

      • Miles Lunn says:

        Most Liberals thought Harper was unelectable and many Democrats said the same about Trump. Sometimes people who seem unelectable do win. Its true more often than not and if a candidate is seen is unelectable they usually don’t, but often parties, especially those too cushy in power lose touch of what voters want.

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:


          Yeah, Harper sure made a monkey out of me. Thems the breaks in politics. He got the last and best laugh in 2006.

  8. With unity, comes victory. Without?

  9. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Most people would tell you that winning is everything in politics. Others, would go even further and say it’s the only thing. Then there are those who go to live or die on the hill of principle and damn the torpedos.

    That’s the debate that the CPC has to have now. And only one of those three is the right answer.

  10. FM says:

    I think Marilyn Gladu has potential; smart (chemical engineer), articulate, experienced businesswoman, problem solver, new face, woman from southern Ontario. I think she’s worth considering

    • Paige says:

      Yes the CV looks good, but… even though she is apparently articulate , I can think of only one time I have seen her on TV and it was only about her declaring she was in. I wish her the best.

  11. Pedant says:

    “some vision of Canada beyond a land of feudal peasants bowing to big money”

    Isn’t that what Canada has already become in Toronto and Vancouver, made far worse since the Liberals won in 2015? Wealthy foreign investors scooping up condos, sometimes with laundered money, and renting them to young Canadians at obscene prices.

    Maybe the Conservatives won’t improve that situation, but they certainly can’t do worse than the Liberals.

  12. Pedant says:

    I don’t see any difference between McKay and a garden variety Liberal. Yeah I’m sure a guy from Nova Scotia will be eager to reconfigure Canada’s grossly anti-Western equalization scam. Not interested.

    If Rona doesn’t run (and it looks like she won’t), then Poilievre it’ll have to be. Too bad Brad Wall doesn’t speak French.

    • Pedant,

      Sometimes the imperatives of necessity take precedence over personal preferences. No matter who wins the leadership, the next PM, if he or she is CPC, will have no choice but to rejig equalization. Otherwise Alberta walks. It’s as simple as that.

      • lyn says:

        Ronald: Also get the pipelines built to transport LNG and Oil. Oil East via the USA, New York, Vermont, New Hamshire and Maine state…what do you think! As well as through B.C. Canada needs to start doing something or Canada will be known as a country NOT invest in and it has started!!

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:


          I favour the maximum exploitation of our natural resources in as green a manner as humanly possible. What I want to know from Kenney is when his transition plan will be ready and what’s the path and timeline to eventual transitioning away from fossil fuels? Is the end in thirty, forty years, or more? If Kenney is a statesman, it’s his responsibility to give Albertans a reality-check that eventually oil and gas will be a no-go economically.

  13. Bill,

    The biggest mistake you can make in politics is to deliberately let your massive ego get way out in front of your brain. Party members, of any stripe, have a sacred responsibility in the run up to eventual elections to do no harm. (After an election, is another matter.)

    However, when you can’t help but make it personal, it becomes all about YOU — not about the party and its prospects. The last thing anyone should do is take action that will damage not only your own party’s electoral prospects but also massively impact the reputation of the person who is simply not capable of taking an undesired hit for the overall good of the team. Keep those egos in check folks.

  14. Steve T says:

    The traditional wisdom was finding a candidate who appealed to the widest swath of voters; both inside your party and outside (ie – swing voters). The idea being, you’ll always get the votes of your party base, so your goal is to also get votes of non-base folks.

    However, Trump’s “win” in 2016 (quote marks because he actually lost the popular vote) showed that sometimes a more polarizing candidate can end up winning. We’ve seen similar things occur in Europe. It would have been interesting to see the results of the Canadian election if Bernier had been the candidate rather than Scheer. I say that as a Conservative party member who doesn’t like Bernier.

    To oversimplify the situation: Poillievre is the new Bernier. and McKay is the new Scheer. Who is more likely to win a general election?

    • Miles Lunn says:

      Also appealing to base can result in disaster, good example of that is recent British election where Labour had its worst showing since 1935 thanks to Corbyn taking the party way to the left. I don’t think anyone asides doubts if Labour had a more moderate leader they would have done better. Maybe they wouldn’t have won, but certainly wouldn’t have been beat as badly as they were.

      Right wing populists like Trump and others like Orban, Salvini are sort of whole different ballgame. They alienate a lot of your traditionally upper middle class college educated types who might lean right on fiscal policies, but compensate for that by winning many blue collar types who normally vote for parties on the left. My skepticism is with Canada being very urban and having the highest rate of people with post secondary degrees on earth; not sure that demographic is large enough for it to work. I think loss of first group would more than offset any gains in second whereas in many other countries where smaller percentage live in metropolitan areas and fewer have post secondary degrees that is not the case.

  15. J.H. says:

    None of the above for me so far. Charest not acceptable in the west, neither is a red Tory like PM. Not even sure of Charest in Quebec, but Peter will get lots of support from the folks Downhome, not enough though. Pierre’s the darling of the Right wing of the CPC, but can’t win the country.
    Thinking I’ll sit this one out, unless Wall or Rona step up.

    • J.H.,

      There’s some speculation that Wall will back Charest. But that’s not confirmed.

    • The Doctor says:

      I have no idea why people are pushing Poilievre. He has the same problem as Scheer, i.e., zero charisma, while being notably less likeable. He’s also a shameless partisan hack and is willing to take and defend ridiculous partisan positions, but I guess some hardcore partisans like that shit. I don’t. God please not another nerdy, uncharismatic white guy. If Poilievre is the best that the CPC can offer, then the CPC is in serious trouble.

      • Doc,

        As you know, he’s born in Calgary and studied there, so right now, he’s the de facto Western candidate.

        • Miles Lunn says:

          Base wants him as they care more about ideological purity than electability. Same as tea party in US or Sanders people in Democrats or Momentum in UK who are backing Rebecca Long Bailey. While Sanders has some potential, Rebecca long Bailey doesn’t, but for many furthest from centre they don’t care about electability its about ideology and damn the torpedoes.

      • PJH says:

        Well said, Doc……My gosh even Joe Clark had something to warm to. Not “Skippy Poindexter” If chosen, we are doomed to many more years in the wilderness…..

    • Walter says:

      Problem for MacKay is the by not running in 2015, he sort of left Harper out to dry. Then in 2019, when it appeared that Scheer might win, he sabotaged him as well to prevent a win for Andrew. 6 years ago, MacKay was my choice – and he likely would have become PM is Harper was re-elected in 2015. Based on his recent performance, MacKay is not my guy.
      Ambrose is in a similar boat, campaigning against Scheer (and for Trudeau) when the CPC tried to attack the Liberals on the NAFTA negotiation strategy.
      Rempel and Brad Wall are interesting people who might have the right combination of appeal, credibility and resolve to hold a position. However, I think neither will run.
      Charest is an alternative to the Liberals, but I mean that in a bad way. If the public gets so sick of the disastrous Liberal policies, Charest is electable enough to continue those policies.
      That leaves Polievre as the remaining choice . He seems firm enough on his convictions. Economically a bit right and socially centre – and he might hold those positions and not just bend to the wishes of the MSM. Conservatives are tired of leaders bending to the left to appease the media, and still getting knocked for being far right. Better to pick someone slightly right who will stay there.

      • Miles Lunn says:

        MacKay left in 2015 as he would have lost his seat. He saw the writing on the wall in Atlantic Canada and here is the reality those who lose their seats generally never win leadership races. It is same reason Baird and to lesser extent James Moore left (although latter had personal reasons).

        As for Poilievre, yes media and those on left will label whomever the Tories chose as far right, but question becomes will public buy it. If you have a moderate leader like MacKay or Charest, Liberals will just appear desperate and it will flop. But you chose someone more right wing like Poilievre it will work. He will scare away swing voters party needs but also unite left. Party needs a divided left to win and someone as polarizing as him will ensure that doesn’t happen.

        • Fred from BC says:

          ” Party needs a divided left to win and someone as polarizing as him will ensure that doesn’t happen.”

          The Liberals need a divided right, and choosing your so-called ‘moderates’ ( MacKay or Charest) will result in just that, as people leave the CPC to avoid yet another Liberal Lite party and create Reform 2.0. If Poillievre has mellowed and avoids intemperate outbursts he might do just fine…and if not him, then someone else (just as long as that someone holds at least a few real conservative values).

          Having liberals advise us to choose more “moderate” candidates makes us a bit suspicious of your motives.

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:


            Most Canadians are moderate? Right? So there you go…you need to relate to those moderates and to earn their confidence before they will seriously entertain voting CPC. Only Trump wins elections with just the base. Not in Canada.

        • Fred from BC says:


          Most Canadians are moderate? Right? ”

          Right. It’s the bandying about of the word itself by *Liberals* that has me concerned; when a Liberal says that the Conservatives need a more “moderate” leader, what they really mean is that we need a more *Liberal* leader. I reject that.

          “you need to relate to those moderates and to earn their confidence before they will seriously entertain voting CPC.”

          Of course. The difference is, the Liberals see almost all Conservatives as being extremists, unless they act like Liberals. I’m saying that a Conservative leader can act like a conservative and still win (Stephen Harper did).

          I also find it a bit sad how most Canadians still don’t realize that in the US, our Conservatives would be considered Democrats…our Liberals would be laughed at, and the NDP would be just as illegal as the Communist Party.

  16. Miles Lunn says:

    There haven’t been any major privatizations since 90s. Most were done under Mulroney and Chretien and for good reason. While some things like health care, education, prisons, defence etc, are best done by government, most things are done better by private sector as governments are slow and inefficient and often cannot keep up with fast pace changing consumer trends. That being said we only have a few crown corporations left so at federal level not exactly a lot to privatize. Provincially you have more in some provinces like Government run liquor stores and government run auto insurance in three provinces.

    Austerity is never fun, but what’s the point of having a Conservative party if no one is for balanced budgets. The way to avoid austerity is live within your means and then there is no need for it, but spend beyond your means, it becomes inevitable, just a matter of when and how deep.

    As for tax breaks for rich, actually top marginal tax rates since 2010 have risen in 7 out of 10 provinces as well as federally. In Ontario, top combined rate is 53.5% which is even higher than most European countries (although not all) so question becomes how much higher should it go. I am all for closing loopholes where rich pay less than middle class but I believe it happens far less than people think. Common in US, but their tax code is quite different from ours. In Canada most cases where wealthy pay less is they don’t have a salary and make income strictly on profits so one year suffer a loss thus little or no income thus no tax. But you don’t become wealthy unless through inheritance without earning a lot some years and you will get taxed in those.

  17. Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear Bibeau’s case:

    La Presse:

    Personne n’a été accusé de quoi que ce soit jusqu’ici dans le cadre de l’enquête Mâchurer, et il n’est pas certain que des accusations seront portées un jour.


  18. He might be the best of a weak field. Never struck me as overly bright, and he seems to be one of those “I’m entitled to my entitlements” types. I suspect if he becomes leader, the Liberals will be able to gather more that a few stories about Peter that he would not like to be reminded of in public. Speaking personally, I would like to see a fresh face, but I don’t have a horse in this race. I would also add that notwithstanding who the CPC pick as leader, the success or failure of the NDP in the next election will be more of a factor than anything else in determining whether or not we have a new PM.

  19. Pushslice says:

    Oh! and BTW, he’ not bilingual. Shouldn’t this appear as the first item in the ‘cons’ .

  20. whyshouldIsellyourwheat says:

    MacKay, Ambrose, and O’Toole DON’T have passable French

    Why does a guy whose career ambition to be PM NOT have passable French? Ditto Ambrose. They each had a decade in government to learn.

    The Conservatives from the “Reform Wing” all have passable French, Harper, Kenney, Baird, POiLIEVRE. Scheer was borderline.

    I don’t see how the Conservatives can have a leader with worse French than Scheer.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      It’s supposed to be part of an automatic mindset of any and all serious contenders for party leadership to become functionally bilingual. It should be a given but Anglophone politicians largely just don’t get it. For them, it’s just not important enough and that’s beyond me. I look forward to see what my candidate will publicly pledge in that regard.

    • PJH says:

      We have an excellent possible leader who is perfectly fluent in both official languages: Jean Charest.

      Reform Camp: “Crickets”…..

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:


        The party is still very much an uneasy coalition of Alliance and PCP. That’s the unspoken challenge for all declared and likely candidates. Alliance will decide who gets to lead our party. So, the candidate who quite naturally succeeds to meet them in the middle will become leader. That’s why I support MacKay as I see him as most likely to successfully bridge that gap with your average CPC member and supporter. Each of the others has highly entrenched opposition, even those not yet declared. And the press delights in exposing every minute of it.

  21. Quite obviously, Massicotte knows precisely zip how to do PR…

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