Ral­ly­ing Tory troops

For­mer fed­eral cab­i­net min­is­ter Peter MacKay de­liv­ers stump-like speech in P.E.I.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE PROVINCE - BY TERESA WRIGHT twright@the­guardian.pe.ca Twittercom/@GuardianTeresa

For­mer cab­i­net min­is­ter Peter MacKay may not be of­fi­cially be in the race for lead­er­ship of the Con­ser­va­tive party of Canada, but an ap­pear­ance he made in P.E.I. last week had all the mak­ings of a stump speech.

MacKay was in Prince Ed­ward Is­land as guest speaker for Tory MLA Steven My­ers’ Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tion din­ner in St. Pe­ters.

MacKay praised the Con­ser­va­tive party’s record in Ottawa and en­cour­aged mem­bers to fo­cus on re­build­ing the party.

“Much of the chal­lenge in re­build­ing is also be­ing hon­est about our record and be­ing proud of our record as a govern­ment, be­ing proud of the ini­tia­tives we’ve taken some­times against all odds,” MacKay said.

“We have to be ag­gres­sive some­times in talk­ing about things we have done.”

He took a few light­hearted jabs at Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, say­ing, “Glib one-lin­ers and self­ies aren’t go­ing to fix the econ­omy.”

He also elicited laughs when he joked that Cardi­gan MP and Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Lawrence Ma­cAulay has “saved re­peat­edly” the Wood Is­lands ferry ser­vice.

He then ven­tured into some core Con­ser­va­tive party is­sues, in­clud­ing de­fend­ing manda­tory min­i­mum sen­tences for vi­o­lent and sex­ual of­fend­ers and de­nounc­ing the Lib­eral govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to end the com­bat mis­sion against ISIS, in­clud­ing pulling Canada’s fighter jets.

“It’s com­ing to North Amer­ica. It’s here, we’re on their list. Their stated in­tent is to de­stroy our way of life, and we’re pulling out.”

MacKay also raised con­cern about the Trudeau govern­ment’s plans for elec­toral re­form as well as the fu­ture of the En­ergy East pipe­line amid news the mayor of Mon­treal is of­fi­cially op­posed to the pro­ject.

MacKay did not seek re-elec­tion dur­ing the fall fed­eral elec­tion, cit­ing a de­sire to fo­cus on his young fam­ily.

He is widely con­sid­ered to be a lead­er­ship con­tender for the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive party and has pub­licly stated he’s not rul­ing out throw­ing his hat in the race.

His “rally the troops” speech in P.E.I. Fri­day evening only helped to fan the ru­mours of his po­ten­tial can­di­dacy for lead­er­ship.

“We have to present our party fed­er­ally and provin­cially, as ready to gov­ern again and to get back to what mat­ters most, and that’s con­nect­ing with Cana­di­ans — not with sunny ways — but with prac­ti­cal and im­por­tant poli­cies that lead to the type of changes that will im­pact di­rectly on peo­ple’s day-to-day lives,” MacKay said.

But if he is con­sid­er­ing an­other stab at pol­i­tics, it ap­pears it may not be in the near fu­ture.

On Mon­day, MacKay an­nounced he will join the global law firm of Baker & McKen­zie as a part­ner in Toronto, ex­pect­ing to ad­vise on a range of mat­ters, in­clud­ing govern­ment and reg­u­la­tory en­force­ment and com­pli­ance mat­ters.

TERESA WRIGHT/THE GUARDIAN

For­mer fed­eral cab­i­net min­is­ter Peter MacKay, se­cond right, shares a joke with for­mer cab­i­net col­league Gail Shea and mem­bers of the pro­vin­cial PC cau­cus, from left Sid­ney MacEwen, Steven My­ers and Colin LaVie.

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