Apparently Stephen Harper hasn't pleaded on bended knee for MacKay to stay, and that's enough to fuel another week of stories about Harper's supposedly endangered leadership.
Peter MacKay says he's received "heart-warming" entreaties to stick with the federal Conservatives from his caucus colleagues, but none from Tory Leader Stephen Harper.
The apparently cool response from Harper will likely revive talk of Conservative leadership tension as MacKay contemplates overtures to join the race to succeed retiring Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm.
One senior Tory insider insisted "there's no story here. That's Stephen's personality."
Harper is a professional, said the source, and expects others to behave the same way. "You shouldn't need to be cajoled into staying."
And Harper's spokeswoman, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, said the point is moot because MacKay has repeatedly indicated to Harper that he would be staying with the federal party.
"Peter always said he was going to stay in Ottawa, so it's kind of an odd story," she said.
That's not to say there isn't an issue.
The easy speculation is that Harper wants his deputy out because MacKay keeps stealing the limelight. More Machiavellian minds might see MacKay painting Harper in a negative light.
Or it could just be the latest case of poor Conservative optics, a byproduct of Harper's debilitating lack of people skills.
The media will condemn Harper no matter what he does. If he'd beseeched MacKay to stay in Ottawa, they'd have said that he was desperately trying to save his party's fortunes and prevent an exodus of former PCers behind MacKay.
Whether he stays or goes, they'll call it trouble for Harper.
Source: Ottawa Citizen