Saturday, May 30, 2015

He Won't Be Missed

H/t Michael de Adder

Anyone who regularly reads this blog will know that I (along with guest posters The Salamander and The Mound of Sound) regard Peter MacKay as just one of far too many blights on the political landscape, perhaps distinguished only by his less-than-pedestrian intellect and very public absence of integrity. The most egregious example of the latter occurred during a very public soul-selling transaction (most such deals, I assume, go on behind closed political doors). After promising David Orchard during what turned out to be the final leadership convention of the federal Progressive Conservatives that he would never merge the party with Alliance/Reform if he backed him for the leadership, a scant few weeks later MacKay showed the stuff of which he is made and did just that.

And with no apparent shame.

Undoubtedly, as occurs when a politician leaves the stage, a certain hagiography will develop around the departing MacKay. Happily, Andrew Coyne has no intention of joining in such an disingenuous charade. The title of his National Post piece says it all:

Peter MacKay was a politician of many titles, but little achievement
Harper made him his first foreign affairs minister, an appointment that caused great puzzlement in Ottawa, though not nearly as much as in other capitals, where the notion that the foreign minister should be something other than a placeholder for the prime minister still holds.

After 18 unmemorable months at Foreign Affairs, he replaced Gordon O’Connor at National Defence, where he oversaw a string of procurement bungles culminating in the F-35, whose costs the government understated by a factor of five, staving off Parliament’s demands for the real figures just long enough to win re-election.
Yet McKay's incompetence seemed to propel him to even greater heights of imeptitude within the Harper cabinet:
Then it was off to Justice, where he was responsible for shepherding a number of bills through Parliament that seemed almost designed to be found unconstitutional, even as Justice department lawyers were losing case after case at the Supreme Court.
Other than that, he is best remembered for his commandeering a military helicopter as personal transportation back from a fishing lodge, plus his broken romance with Belinda Stronach, after which he posed in a photo-op with with a borrowed dog as he 'licked' his romantic wounds.

Oh yes, according to Coyne, he also likes to play rugby.

What does MacKay's 'peter principle' rise ultimately tell us? Here is Coyne's uncompromising take:
His career at the top of Canadian politics tells us more about the state of Canadian politics than anything else. That such a palpable cipher could have remained in high office for nearly a decade is a testament to many things: the thinness of the Tory front bench, the decline of cabinet, the prime minister’s cynicism, the media’s readiness to go along with the joke. The one thing it does not signify is his importance. He had all of the titles, but little influence, and less achievement.
For me a cathartic article and post and a very welcome but overdue political departure.


  1. I understand that Baird was 45 when he left and that MacKay is now 49. We allowed these two clowns to spend almost twenty years apprenticing at journeyman's rate and at public expense while serving little other purpose than to make the personal connections required to audition for well-compensated positions in the private sector. Wasn't there a time when our society had the understanding that it would be served better by a reverse of this model: by drawing its political leadership from among members of the community who had extensive, or at least some, prior experience as adults within the private sector and might, on that account by the age of 49 or perhaps even 45, have something worthwhile to offer the public in terms of ability and maturity of perspective?

    Now I realize that, after obtaining his law degree, MacKay did spend some months in the private sector and then a few years as a public prosecutor – the white-collar equivalent of two summers in the Blue Ribbon Baloney Factory. So he isn’t quite the example of the iconic political entrepreneur as are Baird, Clement, Poilièvre, Jason and, of course, Harper.

    Hopefully, MacKay has got what he wanted and, once he picks up his time next fall, those of us who don't have to deal with him personally will have seen the last of him. And we can also hold to the hope that Poilièvre, Tony and Jason will become engaged sooner rather than later by the personal opportunities that will enable us to be rid of them as well.

    1. A brilliant assessment, John B., and I wholeheartedly concur with the hopes you express!

  2. It has been many years since I read Stevie Cameron's books on corruption in the Mulroney years so I hope my memory has not failed me in the details. His father was Elmer MacKay who was well connected to Schreiber, the other half of the infamous brown envelopes chain (BTW, did you notice that in this case the originator of the brown envelopes had ended up in jail while the receiver is still out of jail whereas in the Duffy case, the originator of the alleged bribe has not been charged but the alleged reciever is?) .

    According to Cameron, his father had arranged for young attorney Peter to work for Schreiber. And indeed, if I remember correctly, Peter did spend a short time working for the infamous arms dealer and current jailbird. Here is what I found interesting .... remember our joke about Harper's father apparently having to pull strings to get him an office boy/mail room clerk job with Imperial Oil in Calagary? Seems Peter's father had pulled strings to get him his first job with his close friend, Schreiber. Thus it seems that some Cons at least are not above exploiting their personal connections to get ahead in life while the rest of us have to depend on our own laurels, eh?

    And what did Schreiber think of young MacKay? According to Cameron, Schreiber said that he was not made of the same "timber" as his father. Very telling, isn't it, when the old Schreiber apparently was not impressed too?

    1. Thanks for your commentary, Anon. It would seem that no matter where one stands on the political or criminal spectrum, Peter MacKay is a consistently underwhelming presence.

    2. Have you ever seen a group of MP's more uncouth and talentless Lorne, then those under Harpers reign? It's as if they were and still are role playing at being our government. They found themselves in positions of power that they would have never have achieved through their own merit. As Harpers mouth pieces however the sky was the limit and it was Canadians and our democracy that were and still are sacrificed in this process. MacKay another Harper shill is moving on. What he leaves in his wake is democratic disaster after democratic disaster, not even worthy of a look back. We have put our government in the hands of power seeking, thoughtless hicks. It is our government. It is our country. Time to claim ownership!

    3. A powerful and galvanizing statement, Pamela. I agree completely with both your assessment of those who 'lead' us, and your call for action to reclaim our country!


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