So long, Peter, we knew you too well

Peter MacKay

Peter MacKay

Is Peter MacKay resigning from federal politics to spend time with his growing greeting-card-perfect family? Or to grease a personal private sector future filled with lucrative corporate board memberships and international consulting gigs, nicely anchored by a 20-year MP’s pension worth almost two-and-a-half times the average Canadian salary? Or  to jump the listing Harper ship before it disappears below the electoral water line while plotting his eventual political resurrection.

All of the above? He wouldn’t be the first: John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin…

So, while it may be premature to pen Peter MacKay’s political obituary, it’s never too early  to assess his accomplishments — and otherwise — to date.

First, there is the Conservative Party. MacKay’s unprincipled decision to violate a no-merger promise that allowed him to win the 2003 Progressive Conservative leadership convention, then hop into bed with Stephen Harper’s far right Reform/Canadian Alliance changed the course of contemporary Canadian politics.

If not for that deal, Harper himself allowed during MacKay’s fond farewell Friday, “the lives of all of Canada’s conservatives would have been bound in shallows and miseries.”

Instead, the more than 60 per cent of us who are not conservative suffered the shallows, miseries… and worse.

During nearly a decade in senior cabinet portfolios — justice, defence, foreign affairs — MacKay helped Stephen Harper push what was once our country far to the warriors-not-wimps, lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key, either-good-guys-or-terrorists side of the ideological divide.

Worse, he did it clumsily, picking on the veterans his government claimed to venerate while picking un-winnable fights with Supreme Court justices.

MacKay’s local legacy — ACOA appointments scandals, international security conference boondoggles, dangled dollars for questionable mega-projects — is merely an unwelcome extension of last-century federal pork barrel politics.

The best news about his resignation is that it puts his Central Nova seat — along with the province’s other three Tory ridings — in legitimate electoral play this fall.

That said, I will miss him. Peter MacKay — he of Condi confidences, Belinda betrayals, banged-up hearts, borrowed photo-op dogs, hijacked search and rescue helicopters, etc. — was the columnists’ gift that kept on giving.

See you soon, Peter.

  1. When a public figure retires, their past crimes and cockups become obscured behind a veil of nostalgic bullshit. Mackay’s treachery in 03 enabled Chairman Harper’s reign of terror which will leave us picking up the pieces for generations. No amount of trophy wives can make up for that. Well done Stephen for being among the first to pierce the veil.


  2. This is a good assessment of Peter MacKay. I cannot understand how anyone could ever rely on this man’s word after his public betrayal of David Orchard during the leadership race for the Progressive Conservative party. It is not rare for a politician to wiggle out of an ill-thought-out promise or to change positions after deeper reflection about an issue. But MacKay egregiously abandoned his word almost immediately, and in my books made him a cold-hearted liar. It says a lot about Harper’s values that he kept MacKay by his side and in prominent cabinet positions all these years. On the other hand, it was also Harper’s good judgement that landed Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau in our senate.


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