OTTAWA -- The Conservative party faces a new crisis this week after a number of MPs signalled their frustration with Tory Peter MacKay, whom they feel is undermining Stephen Harper's leadership to position himself as the party's saviour-in-waiting.
Several Conservatives have told CanWest News Service that MacKay, the leader of the former Progressive Conservative party and a front-runner to succeed Harper, has rankled some of his fellow caucus members with comments made in the media that suggest he is distancing himself from the embattled party.
"It looks to our people like Peter views his interests as being at cross-purposes with the party for the next election. If the party does poorly, his ascendancy is accelerated. At least he would see it that way," said an Ontario Conservative MP, who spoke on condition that his name not be published.
"I mean, I like the guy actually, and I could see myself supporting him one day, but I want to win the next election."
The first concerns arose months ago at Conservative policy convention in Montreal when MacKay took issue with a proposed policy that he said would spell the death of the barely two-year-old merger between his PC party and the Canadian Alliance.
But the problem has peaked again in some MPs' minds with recent comments, including one in which MacKay remarked to a reporter that he was travelling in British Columbia because it was up to him to bring "stability" to the Tories, and another in which he was asked if his party was ready to govern.
"I don't think we're there yet," MacKay replied, according to the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times in B.C.
Even if Stephen Harper were the worst possible man to lead the party, and Peter MacKay the best, MacKay's honeymoon wouldn't last ten minutes before the media started savaging him as an untrustworthy hothead with questionable judgment. And not just in women.
Getting rid of Stephen Harper, just as the political news cycle is about to become favourable again with the upcoming Gomery report, would sideline the party for the length of a needless leadership contest. His successor would be distrusted by much of the party at best, and despised at worst.
On the other hand, this recent exercise at creating a dump-Harper movement from thin air has smoked out the last remaining Red Tory saboteurs who decided to destroy the party from within rather than defect with Clark, Brison, et. al. at its founding.
It has also shown that the party will not panic at the first hint of media-inspired trouble. The lesson of Stockwell Day has taught many in the party the necessary courage to stand by the leader and not make him into a liability needlessly.
The old Tory curse of endless leadership revolts may finally be breaking.
And perhaps it took this last transparent attempt by Carol Jamieson and her media enablers to do it.
Source: Saskatoon Star-Phoenix