Former Central Nova MP Peter MacKay isn’t predicting a lot of warmth and fuzziness in Ottawa over the next couple of years.
With the Liberals reduced to holding a minority government after the Oct. 21 federal election, the MacKay sees a rocky romance between parties that, to various degree, have vastly differing ideologies.
“What can make it work is an overall willingness to compromise and cooperate among parties and party leaders,” he told The News in a telephone interview.
“(But) I don’t see a lot of civility and goodwill flowing in any direction. I think it’s going to make for a very rocky period of time (and) with the realistic threat of a recession lapping at our shores, this is not a good environment to be in.”
He said he wonders how the various parties will be able to reconcile their differing views on things, such as how to deal with climate change. “I suspect it will be very difficult to rationalize.”
During his 18 years in Ottawa, MacKay was part of three minority governments – once in Opposition, the other two occasions when he was part of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
At the local level, MacKay said he was disappointed – and a little surprised – that Conservative candidate George Canyon did not fare better in Central Nova.
Liberal incumbent Sean Fraser garnered more than 20,000 votes, and runner-up Canyon had slightly more than 13,000 votes.
MacKay said Canyon’s late entry into the race might have “hobbled him” and found it disconcerting that Canyon took some heat for coming home from Alberta to run in Central Nova, pointing out that Fraser did the same thing four years ago, but without the apparent backlash.
“It’s not like we’re the only party that ever appointed a candidate,” he said. “George worked really hard, he turned up for events large and small – I saw the effort he put in. But that’s an election, and that’s the way it goes.”
There is speculation that MacKay might take a run at the Conservative leadership if it opens up, speculation that won’t be going away anytime soon. He said he’s “not going down that road” but did say, as he has in the past, that “I’m not closing any door, but I’m not ready to jump back in, either.
“I’m happy practising law and raising a family, " said MacKay, who spends the bulk of his time working at a law firm in Toronto, where he lives with his wife and their three children. "My life is very full and I’m not pining away for politics.”