Home Election Tracker Peter MacKay set to enter Conservative leadership race

Peter MacKay set to enter Conservative leadership race

Taking advantage of public attention during lead-up to funeral for former MP John Crosbie

Wednesday January 15, 2020 ~ NATIONAL

~ West Shore Voice News

High-profile and long-time career politician Peter MacKay has announced his intention to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

He made the announcement today January 15 on Twitter: “I’m in, stay tuned.” He is expected to make an official announcement next week in his home riding of Central Nova.

MacKay could be said to be capitalizing on the attention to Atlantic Canada politics right now, with the funeral for long-time MP John Crosbie, which is also being attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tomorrow.

A former cabinet minister under Stephen Harper, MacKay has become a household name in Canadian politics. He is very likely the highest-profile candidate to run in the 2020 leadership race.

A lawyer, MacKay was a Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2015. He served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General (2013-2015), Minister of National Defence (2007–2013), and Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006–2007) in the Cabinet of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. MacKay was the final leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (PC Party), and he agreed to merge the party with Stephen Harper’s Canadian Alliance in 2003, forming the Conservative Party of Canada.

MacKay represented the riding of Pictou—AntigonishGuysborough from 1997 to 2004, and the riding of Central Nova from 2004 until 2015, when he decided not to run in that year’s federal election. With the defeat of the Conservatives in the 2015 election, MacKay was considered a potential candidate to succeed Harper as permanent leader of the party.

MacKay was at first openly critical of Andrew Scheer’s ‘fumbling’ of the 2019 election race against Trudeau, and then toned it down. MacKay is among those Conservatives who believe the election ‘was theirs to win’, which is not necessarily the case given a number of factors, not the least of which that no election win is assured to any party.

Officially in the race so far is Marilyn Gladu, MP (Sarnia—Lambton), who was first elected in 2015.

On Wednesday, La Presse reported that former MP Rona Ambrose (who left politics in 2017 and said she would not return) is not running. But for many she is still a favourite. Ambrose is more in MacKay’s league in terms of experience and style than is Gladu and could give MacKay a run for his money. Ambrose served as interim leader of the Conservative Party and was Leader of the Opposition between 2015 and 2017. In August 2017 Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Ambrose to a 13-member NAFTA advisory council for providing opinion and feedback on the negotiations with the United States and Mexico.

But Ambrose seems to be enjoying her ‘new life’ in high-end political and business circles, apparently — in part — a lifestyle promise to her husband (versus the hectic high-energy demands of elected politics). “She will not be a candidate. She should confirm her intentions in the coming days,” a conservative source told the Quebec news outlet LaPresse.

Leadership candidates must declare by February 27. Lisa Raitt is co-chair of the leadership election organizing committee. Candidates will be required to submit a non-refundable registration fee of $200,000 in installments up until the end of March. They will also need to collect 3,000 signatures of endorsement from party members.

The new leader will be announced June 27, 2020 at the Conservative convention in Toronto.