Peter MacKay Symbolizes The Dilemma For Canada's Conservative Party
In 2003, the party was born of a union by the Canadian Alliance Party (formerly REFORM Party) and the Progressive Conservative Party. Stephen Harper led the Canadian Alliance Party into the union and Peter MacKay led the Progressive Conservatives. Harper was selected as leader of the new party.
The new Conservatives have had three electoral shots at government since the union. The 2004 election left them as Official Opposition. The results of the 2006 election gave them a minority government. They gambled in 2008 by calling an early vote, but just couldn't go over the top sufficiently to win a majority.
Future majority prospects are now diminishing daily. In fact, the Conservatives will lose government the next time that Canadians go to the polls. (You heard it here first)!
Stephen Harper cannot be accused of being an 'inclusive' leader of his party. He is dictatorial and operates with a 'my way or the highway' motto when dealing with his Members of Parliament as well as his central party structure and Riding associations. Harper does not accept internal criticism well.
In his dealings with his party, he has surrounded himself with political ideologues who act as his goons. John Baird, Pierre Polievre, Jason Kenney, Rob Anders; these are the backroom boys who have Harper's ear and who do his bidding.
So back to the cracks. I will use two examples of how Harper's rigid control of his party is beginning to show some strain.
The first example revolves around the plight of his pal, Rob Anders. Anders is an MP from Calgary who seems to be consistently challenged by Conservative members of his riding association. Anders has been called the most ineffective MP in the whole nation. His lack of accountability is touted by some as the reason he must step aside and allow someone more competent to run for the Conservatives in Calgary West.
But who is it that consistently comes to Anders defense? Why Stephen Harper, of course! Anders is his buddy and there is no place for democracy in the Conservative Party of Canada when it comes to challenges to Rob Anders.
Harper's tactics in protecting Anders has alienated many local Conservatives but Anders is in more trouble with his own riding association than is being reported. In spite of Harper's interference, Anders just may lose the nomination this time around.
The next example of cracks in Harper's party revolves around former Prime Minister (and Progressive Conservative leader), Brian Mulroney.
Harper has tried to move his party away from any connection with Mulroney. He has ordered all of his MP's to have nothing to do with Mulroney.
That edict is not working out very well for Mr. Harper. Veteran MP's like Peter MacKay are balking at the order and they are doing it publicly. This will not sit well with Mr. Harper. His arrogant style simply will not allow criticism of any kind, particularly when it comes from within his own party.
It looked for awhile this week that Peter MacKay may have found a way out of Harper's political death spiral. Had MacKay been selected as the new head of NATO, he could have stepped out of Harper Inc. and kept his reputation intact and at arms length from the Conservative Party as it begins a trip to the dumpster of former Canadian governments. The loss of government and the end of Harper's leadership, could well have left MacKay as the heir apparent to lead the Tories.
The fact that Peter MacKay did not get the spot as NATO head, means that he will have to slog on in Harper's cabinet and caucus.
Get ready for more cracks to appear.