Friday, September 30, 2005

Peter For Premier?

John Hamm's retirement from the premiership of Nova Scotia has some people pushing for his coronation as premier.

And it has the Globe and Mail working hard to spin the possibility as further evidence of the Conservative Party's collapse:

Sources said yesterday Mr. MacKay is not inclined at this point to try to replace the retiring Premier John Hamm, but Mr. MacKay's departure would be a significant blow to a party that is already being seen as too influenced by the old Canadian Alliance/Reform Party.


The influence of the old Progressive Conservatives took a hit earlier this year with Belinda Stronach's decision to cross the floor. Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper could ill afford the loss of his second-in-command at a time when the party is trailing the Liberals in the polls and prone to accusations that its PC wing lacks influence.

However, Mr. Harper appeared to give Mr. MacKay his blessing yesterday for whatever he decides, telling CTV Newsnet that his deputy has a bright future wherever it may be.


Although Mr. Harper and Mr. MacKay are cordial, Mr. MacKay's colleagues have complained that Mr. Harper does not confide in his deputy and that he is not intimately involved in party strategy.

Earlier this week, Mr. MacKay became angry after an anonymous colleague said he was campaigning for the party leadership. Mr. MacKay is one of the party's most popular MPs and is in great demand as a speaker and fundraiser across the country.

The subtext of Brian Laghi's hit piece disguised as hard news is that Peter MacKay's departure would send the rest of the former PCs scrambling away from the party, while MacKay retreated to the safety of the Nova Scotia premiership to await his coronation as the saviour of the federal Tory party.

But all the former PCs who left in fear of Stephen Harper, have already gone, and will not be lured back by a new leader, no matter how much of a Red Tory he might be.

(Leave aside the comment about Belinda being an influential ex-PCer for its patent untruth. Belinda never did more than dabble in the PC Party, and in its last leader.)

The deep divisions that supposedly exist between former members of the predecessor parties don't exist at the riding level. Having worked at the EDA level, and as someone who was a federal PC at the time of the merger, I've haven't seen them.

Probably because members of both parties were already working together in the same party provincially before the merger, it wasn't a stretch for them to come together federally.

The media also doesn't see just how committed people were to seeing the merger work; I've seen EDA boards and executive made up of people who opposed the merger, on both sides, working together now in harmony.

As a practical matter, the membership and EDA workers don't care who was a member of what party before the merger.

Peter MacKay is unlikely to return to Nova Scotia to become premier at this point. Why should he? He'd be thrown into a minority government and a provincial election where people would be in the mood to blame it for rising gas prices. If he lost the election, his career would be over.

But even if he did, it would be a sign of strength for the federal party that its deputy leader could be coronated premier.

But you'll never read that in the Globe.

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