Monday, March 23, 2009

More Peter MacKay not to NATO speculation

Great post last night on Galloping Beaver by Dave assessing the Peter Mackay-NATO breakup. Just want to add a few thoughts to that fun read...

I didn't see this MacKay to NATO effort as a Harper motivated initiative. It always appeared more to me as MacKay seeing the writing on the wall and wanting to get out of dodge. For a few reasons, principally that he's been pretty successfully marginalized by Harper and is not enjoying his tenure under Harper one bit. There have been a few incidents where MacKay has spoken out, recently on Guantanamo and Khadr, publicly suggesting that the Canadian government would have to reassess its position on Khadr after Obama's announcement that Guantanamo would be closed. The kibosh was put on that pronouncement within hours by the PMO. What is a minister to make of such public slaps, the tight leash ministers have been on? The one-man show? Not surprising he'd be seizing upon an out. This dynamic has been in play for years under Harper, so it would make sense that MacKay would have been the one to seek out Harper to put his name forth, rather than Harper initiating.

And the other big reason for him to get out and perhaps latch on to a five year NATO term would be current political dynamics where it's looking quite likely that the Conservatives are facing defeat. A leadership race for that opposition slot likely doesn't interest MacKay. He's very young, he has time to go earn some experience elsewhere and return later. It's not like he couldn't use it. Dave may be right about the Reformers running things too, meaning that now is not the time for a viable leadership candidacy for MacKay in any event. So my thoughts are that this exit strategy was all MacKay's doing, having seen the writing written on the wall, for now.

Which could lead us to speculate that Harper actually did his best to undermine MacKay, by yes, trashing the Obama administration in that speech to the base but also prior to that in his splashy confession to Fareed Zakaria on CNN that the insurgency will never be defeated in Afghanistan. That latter point a real burn to Obama just as he was announcing more troops to Afghanistan. Harper has not shown to date that he's a great mentor, someone who fosters or brings along colleagues, part of what good leadership is all about. That's what would give some credibility to such an angle. And if you want to go even further, you could speculate that given NATO's historic hold on the civilian leadership, as Dave points out, that Harper gave the green light to this MacKay adventure knowing that MacKay would lose and hurt himself politically. And be perhaps wounded within Conservative circles, therefore creating even more bad leadership mojo.

Ah the intrigue, it could go on and on...perhaps some motivated reporters will attempt to uncover the real back story here.