Former Conservative minister MacKay retreats after Scheer attack
Former Harper minister Peter MacKay has told reporters that he is not organizing a leadership bid. On Twitter, MacKay posted that he supported Andrew Scheer and that his recent comments only had to do with addressing Conservative policy rather than the party’s leadership.
A whole month has now passed since Andrew Scheer resigned as leader of the Conservative Party, and now, the race to replace him is well underway. Some candidates, like Peter MacKay, foresaw the untenability of Scheer’s position, and reportedly began to organize their bid long before the first vote of the 2019 election had been counted.
Other candidates, like Erin O’Toole and Pierre Poilievre, have been more cautious—discreetly organizing a team that can defeat both their blue-blooded colleagues in June, and then a wobbly Justin Trudeau in the next election.
As Peter MacKay said after the disappointment of the last election, the Tories’ failure to beat Trudeau was “like having a breakaway on an open net and missing.” This most Canadian of analogies should remain pungent during the leadership contest: the next election should beckon a blue-wave across the country. If the Conservative Party again fails to win the keys to the PMO then one is perfectly within their right to expand upon MacKay’s analogy: It would be like failing to invade Poland; or, more sportingly, like losing a boxing match with an amputee. To put it simply, it is more likely than not that the victor of this leadership election will become the next prime minister of Canada.
Due to the sheer significance of this leadership contest, The Post Millennial has composed a handy guide. Here’s who is likely to compete in the leadership election and how they plan to win it.
MacKay has not had the easiest start to the leadership contest. After tersely declaring his bid on Twitter, the long-standing Tory MP, Scott Reid, hit back, throwing the former Harper minister’s loyalty into question. Nevertheless, MacKay is a respected figure in Canada’s Conservative movement. Through his role as the leader of the Progressive Conservatives, MacKay was vital to the formation of the modern Conservative Party.
MacKay served in numerous cabinet positions throughout the Harper era and remains a favourite in the leadership contest. Despite the shaky start, polls have made it clear that the Nova Scotian is in a top position to win.
Like MacKay, O’Toole is another party grandee who commands a great deal of respect from within the caucus. O’Toole, rather exotically these days, served in the military. If he is elected, he would be the first Conservative leader in over 60 years with military experience.
Most recently, O’Toole has served as the Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs. O’Toole is not new to leadership contests, finishing third in the 2017 leadership election behind Maxime Bernier and Andrew Scheer.
I had the opportunity to meet Poilievre at a fundraiser. Immediately, he stood out as an effective speaker and as someone who could pose a serious challenge to the other candidates.
Poilievre is a career politician who, through his role as Scheer’s attack dog, has managed to garner wide support amongst the Conservative base. Poilievre has recruited the admired John Baird and the formidable Jenni Byrne, who is an accomplished operative who ran Harper’s 2015 campaign.
There are, of course, other candidates who are spending their time plotting for the leadership. However, for the sake of longevity, and the fact that Guzzo hasn’t received much media coverage, it seems only fair to discuss the Dragon’s Den star.
When The Post Millennial spoke to Guzzo a few weeks ago, he seemed uncertain whether he would throw his hat in the ring—stating that if the Quebec-based Jean Charest didn’t run, then he would be 75 percent sure that he would indeed run. Now, with the recent reports that Charest isn’t likely going to run, Guzzo’s ambition has solidified, telling me,”Yes. If [Charest] doesn’t run, I’ll run.”
Despite attempts to shrug off the comparison, Guzzo’s strategy has similarities to that of Kevin O’Leary’s leadership attempt in 2017. The most overt difference, however, is that Guzzo is Quebec-oriented. With the right-wing CAQ romping to victory in the 2018 provincial election, perhaps Guzzo is on to something. La Belle province is rich with seats, and if the Conservatives can persuade the fickle Quebecois, then Trudeau’s future as PM is in grave danger.
One of the tactics the Liberals have used with much success against the Conservatives is to lock the Conservatives into defending scarcity.
The Liberals repeatedly pledge to outspend the Conservatives, then demand to know what the Conservatives will “cut,” putting the Conservatives on the defensive.
And since many elections become bidding contests where parties compete to offer more to voters, the Liberals benefit to the detriment of the Conservatives.
Now, the answer to this problem isn’t for the Conservatives to just outspend the Liberals, since that wouldn’t be too consistent with the Conservative brand and value system.
However, the Conservatives can achieve success by reframing the issue.
All too often, the Conservatives end up playing within the Liberal (and establishment media) frame, which traps the Conservatives into defending what seems like scarcity and tough times ahead.
Notably, the two most successful centre-right candidates in the Anglosphere recently have won by avoiding being locked into the scarcity frame, and instead campaigned from an abundance frame or abundance mentality.
Both Boris Johnson and Donald Trump ran campaigns that featured much more positivity than they get credit for. While Johnson and Trump spent lots of time demonizing their opponents (as their opponents demonized them right back), both of them shared a message of abundance, repeatedly discussing how their policies and approach would lead to greater wealth and opportunity for the country.
Instead of constantly defending “cuts,” they constantly spoke about “wealth,” “prosperity,” “opportunity,” “job creation,” and sold themselves as being strongly on the side of those who wish to get richer, achieve financial independence and financial freedom, and elevate their status in life.
It was an aspirational message, based on an understanding that free Western societies have an unlimited potential for technological innovation, wealth creation, and opportunity, so long as people are free to succeed and prosper.
That abundance mindset is increasingly essential, especially as economic pessimism and fear spreads. With Canadians increasingly burdened by debt, unaffordable housing, higher taxes, and a rising cost of living, there’s a feeling of malaise across much of the nation.
Most ominously, Canadians believe the next generation will be worse off, and that kind of loss of hope can be devastating to our society and our nation.
So, by shifting towards an abundance mindset and refusing to be stuck in the Liberal scarcity frame, the Conservatives have the potential both to win the upcoming election and unleash the true power and potential of the Canadian people.
Leadership hopeful, Pierre Poilievre, has attempted to hop over the trip wire of social conservatism that plagued Andrew Scheer in the 2019 election, according to La Presse. He is expected to officially announce his leadership bid in the next few days.
Speaking to La Presse in an interview, Poilievre stated that he “supports gay marriages. Period. I voted against it 15 years ago. But I learned a lot, like millions and millions of people across Canada and around the world. I find that gay marriage is a success. The institution of marriage must be open to all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
These comments will be refreshing to many Red Tories, who became increasingly frustrated by Scheer’s inability to tackle negative press when it came to social issues. MacKay, for instance, famously compared Scheer’s social Conservatism to a “stinking albatross.”
Similarly, the ex-interim leader, Rona Ambrose, also took to social media to subtly express her discontent with Scheer’s refusal to participate in gay pride parades. Alongside LGBT issues, Poilievre made clear that a government he would lead would never get mired in the issue.
Poilievre’s wife, Anaida, told The Post Millennial at a fundraising event that she expected her husband to officially announce his candidacy in the next week or so.
Speaking on his leadership intentions, Poilievre told The Post Millennial that “people know I’m a fighter, and they believe that Conservatism is worth fighting for. We don’t need another Liberal party we need a Conservative Party that will honour our country’s traditions, restore free enterprise, reward hardwork, and make it possible for anyone who takes risks to achieve their goals.”
The long-standing Conservative Member of Parliament, Scott Reid, has aggressively criticized Peter MacKay on twitter after the former Harper minister announced his intention to run for the leadership.
After a day of speculation over his leadership intentions, MacKay tersely tweeted “I’m in. stay tuned.” Soon after this, Scott Reid, who represents Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, responded by saying, “Peter, let’s say you’re the leader, and 11 days before [election] day in the next election, a former cabinet minister informs the media that he’s organizing to replace you—just in case Trudeau wins. Can you confirm that you’ll be cool with that kind of writ-period input?”
Both during and after the election, MacKay spoke out aggressively against Scheer’s leadership. One incident that was particularly poignant, was when MacKay declared that social issues hung round Scheer’s neck like a “stinking albatross.” This came only days after the Conservative’s election defeat.
Reid, however, was referring to MacKay’s decision to lay the groundwork for a leadership bid before voters had even gone to the polls.
MacKay denied this story at the time.