Tory leadership candidate Peter MacKay kicks off seven-day tour in local riding

July 10, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Conservative Party leadership candidate Peter MacKay kicked off a seven-day cross-province tour just outside of Caledon on Wednesday morning (July 8) as he ramps up his bid to succeed Andrew Scheer as Tory leader. 

Mr. MacKay is a veteran of the federal political arena, having served six terms as a Member of Parliament between 1997 and 2015 – three for the riding of Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough and three for Central Nova. He was one of the founding fathers of the Conservative Party as it stands today, helping to merge the old Progressive Conservative Party and Canadian Alliance Party in 2003. Working alongside former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mr. MacKay served for nine years as the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party, from 2004 to 2015.

Speaking to the Citizen, Mr. MacKay says the timing is right for him to make a run for Conservative leadership. 

“I’m concerned about the direction of our country. I see a calling to come back,” Mr. MacKay said. “There is real concern about the direction the federal government is taking us, in terms of the economy, foreign relations and our national security. I believe our country has suffered a decline under Justin Trudeau.”

Pointing towards an impressive resume, which includes stints as Minister of Justice, Minister of National Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. MacKay feels he’s the candidate best to take the fight to Prime Minister Trudeau in the next federal election, slated to take place on, or before, Oct. 16, 2023. 

The financial implications of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be drastic, and with the federal government already shouldering a $100 billion deficit prior to coronavirus reaching our shores, Mr. MacKay is concerned about the Liberals’ ability to manage an ever-increasing shortfall. 

In retrospect, he looks back on the “extremely challenging” financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the measures he helped put into place to ensure Canada remained financially responsible during difficult times. 

“We entered the recession with a balanced budget, we addressed big challenges that hit the Canadian economy hard. We implemented infrastructure-spending programs, we implemented stimulus programs, and they were timely, they were targeted and they had the desired impact of keeping a lot of those businesses sustained through that period. We emerged stronger than a lot of other countries from that period, I would argue,” Mr. MacKay said. “That’s not the case we are encountering right now. We entered this period with a $100 billion deficit, and we’re going to emerge with a $300 billion deficit by the sounds of things.”

He added, “That experience in government, the experience in the aftermath of what we call the Deficit Reduction Action Plan also is a unique experience I have, working alongside other members of the cabinet to set up a treasury board to get the economy moving back in the right direction after the crisis. Low and behold we managed to balance the budget again in 2015, against all odds.”

While stabilizing the economy will, in all likelihood, be the first order of business for whoever emerges victorious from the next federal election, Mr. MacKay was a variety of other ideas he hopes to be able to bring to the table. 

He sees housing and transportation as key issues in big urban centres, while ensuring businesses remain open and Canadians retain their jobs are also top of mind. 

“The overall concern has to be jobs, getting Canadians back to work and keeping businesses viable, and making the necessary adjustments to the economy to do just that,” Mr. MacKay said. “I’d like to look at making our tax system more competitive, look at developing our manufacturing sector and tech sector, and repatriating companies in ways that brings jobs and opportunities back to Canada.

“We very much need to embrace our natural resource sector – so that means getting our liquified natural gas to market, focusing on our grains and agricultural sector, on mining and fisheries. We have enormous gifts in this country that we have, frankly, seen underperforming because of a lack of cooperation between government overregulation, and in some cases a philosophical opposition to the development of our energy sector,” Mr. MacKay continued. 

Speaking to the energy sector specifically, Mr. MacKay feels Canada is in a prime position to become a global leader in green energy-related technologies. He would like to see the federal government work closely with nations such as India, who still rely on dirty energy, such as coal, on a day-to-day basis. 

“If we can become a supplier of liquified natural gas to regions like India, and other Asian Pacific countries, this would not only be fantastic for the Canadian economy, but it would allow us to reinvest into new green technologies,” Mr. MacKay said. “This is something not often associated with the Conservative Party, but my belief, my vision is if we’re able to help lower greenhouse gas emissions in our jurisdictions by supplying clean Canadian liquified natural gas, we become real players. We would really be doing something to help global emissions.”

Also in attendance on Wednesday was Dufferin-Caledon MP Kyle Seeback, who was one of the first sitting members of the Conservative caucus to publicly support Mr. MacKay. He believes the former deputy leader has the right mix of values, experience and character to bring the Conservative Party together to combat Prime Minister Trudeau. 

“I think Peter has everything you need in a prime minister. You have someone who has lots of experience, both in politics and outside politics. He speaks well. He knows policy. He’s a passionate guy too. He’s really passionate about Canada and changing course from what we have with Justin Trudeau. I think he’s the right man for the job,” Mr. Seeback said. 

“Peter has always been the guy to bring people together. That’s his legacy in politics. He was one of the two people who brought the Progressive Conservative Party and Canadian Alliance Party together, and that was a tough merger. If he can do something like that, he can certainly deal with all the different factions that go on within the Conservative Party,” Mr. Seeback concluded. 

Mr. MacKay is up against Durham MP Erin O’Toole, Hastings-Lennox and Addington MP Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis in the race for leadership. 

“Speaking humbly, no other candidate in this race has that experience in government that I do,” Mr. MacKay said. “I was in three major portfolios, as well as a fourth economic portfolio that had to do with all of Atlantic Canada. We need to win seats in regions like Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario, and I believe I can deliver.”

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