Peter MacKay will announce today that he is leaving Canadian politics and will not seek re-election later this year.
Now most Americans might not know who Peter MacKay is except for those who read The New York Times in 2006 when it speculated that MacKay could be Condi Rice’s beau when she visited with him in Nova Scotia. But I can assure you that this is pretty big news. MacKay is a key figure in conservative politics in Canada. His father Elmer was a prominent cabinet minister in Brian Mulroney’s government in the 1980’s and the younger MacKay would rise further becoming leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 2003. Later that year the PCs would merge with Stephen Harper’s Canadian Alliance to become the Conservative Party of Canada with Harper becoming leader. In early 2006, the Tories came to power under Harper, but MacKay has played a big role in the Tory government as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defense and now Justice. His departure is a bigger blow than that of John Baird.
I wrote about Baird’s abrupt departure back in February. His was the biggest name among two dozen Tories who had announced they would not run for re-election. When that happens it is a telltale sign that an incumbent government is about to fall. At the time, MacKay dismissed talk that he would follow suit indicating he had filed his nomination papers and was subsequently re-nominated to run in his Nova Scotia seat. Now with MacKay jumping ship the signs are turning into placards.
The only saving grace here is that the anti-Tory vote is split between the Liberals and the NDP. Justin Trudeau might be eager to move back into his childhood home at 24 Sussex Drive, but the NDP has been buoyed by its stunning election victory earlier this month in Alberta. If they can cancel each other out then Harper and the Tories could eke out a fourth consecutive election victory. But that will prove much more difficult without MacKay.