Millroy: The Conservative Leadership Race


A few comments this week as they pertain to the campaign for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party.

I’ll start with some comments about Rona Ambrose, who has been a great source of annoyance to me, not for anything she has done, but for what she isn’t doing.

When Stephen Harper resigned as leader of the Conservatives in 2015, Ambrose signed on as interim leader, taking herself out of the election that would decide Harper’s replacement.

My annoyance began right there.

She was the one I had hoped would run for the leader’s position and win it. I saw her as the most qualified and competent of the group that eventually saw Andrew Scheer catapulted over Maxime Bernier and 12 others into the leader’s seat.

Now, with Scheer on the sidelines and another election for leader due to take place, Ambrose, widely seen as the presumptive front-runner, has announced that she is going to sit out again

“I have really struggled with the decision to return to political life,” she said in a video.

“I loved my 13 years in public service as an MP, minister and especially as leader of this great party. But right now, I am focused on making a difference through the private sector.

Creating policy and advocating for our energy sector to create jobs. And my work continues to ensure all judges in Canada receive sexual assault law training. And the truth is, I love being back in Alberta.”.

My initial thought on reading this in news reports was bah, humbug.

But then, acknowledging that she had served 13 years in public service, I began to think I was being a trifle harsh.

So at that point I softened my stance. from annoyance to disappointment.

I am not plugging the Conservatives here. It is just that I like all parties to have the best leader possible to give me, an independent, the best choice possible when it comes to an election.

So, with Ambrose out of the picture, I find myself in a spot of trouble.

I find myself looking favourably at Peter MacKay, something I had sworn I would never do.

I don’t usually hold a grudge but I will admit I have held one against MacKay since he sold out the federal Progressive Conservative Party in 2003, after he said he wouldn’t, to allow for a merger with the Canadian Alliance, led by Stephen Harper.

The new party was to be known as the Conservative Party, the one which we know today.
So what’s with my complaint with MacKay, you are probably asking, since Conservative was in the name of the new party?

I disagreed with the dropping of the Progressive part of the former name because it could bring about a totally different philosophy.

Whereas the Progressive Conservatives normally were not all that far to the right of the Liberals, a straight Conservative Party could be in danger of being taken over by social conservatives.

If we had had such a government earlier, a woman’s right to choose could have been in danger, same-sex marriage would never have been legislated, gay rights would still be in their infancy.

You only have to look at the comments of prospective leadership candidate Richard Décarie, who recently called being gay a “choice” on national television.

“I think LGBTQ is a Liberal term. I don’t talk about people that way,” the former Conservative staffer told CTV’s Power Play.

“Do you think that’s a choice or do you think it’s biological?” asked host Evan Solomon.

“I think it’s a choice,” responded Décarie. “How people are behaving, it’s one thing. I think government has [the] responsibility to encourage the traditional value that we have had for the past years.”

Although many prominent Conservatives spoke out against his stand, Décarie, says people have expressed privately to him the views he is stating publicly, and that they deserve a voice in the Conservative Party.

A strategic communication consultant from Quebec, Décarie was deputy chief of staff to Stephen Harper when the former prime minister was leader of Canada’s official opposition,
Décarie told Solomon he would remove abortion from publicly funded health insurance plans because “it’s not health care.”

He also said that “my point of view is that marriage is exclusive to a man and a woman.”
I have now come to believe MacKay would keep such people and their thoughts in check.
And I find, with Ambrose out, that I believe he will be the best the Conservatives will be able to come up with to fill the leadership postion.

Some background on MacKay’s role in the merger:
MacKay had been chosen leader of the Progressive Conservatives in May of 2003, after brokering a deal with rival leadership candidate David Orchard. Orchard had thrown his support behind MacKay to break a deadlock in the leadership campaign, on the condition that MacKay vow not to merge the PC Party with the Canadian Alliance.

Five months after winning the PC leadership, MacKay was sitting side-by-side with Harper at the merger announcement.

MacKay became one of Harper’s top cabinet ministers, handling the Foreign Affairs, National Defence and Justice portfolios during his tenure. However, he decided not to run in the 2015 election, and served out his term as Minister of National Defence before stepping away from his MP post.

I decried every step he took, right up until the day he went out the door, hoping I had seen the last of him.

Now here I am welcoming him back, actually not only welcoming him back but beckoning to him.

Go figure.

I guess all I can say is that I have finally accepted that it is time to put pettiness aside and support what I believe is best for the country.


  1. McKay has a shady past not unlike Trudeau. He obtained favours while in the capacity of a sitting member of the house. Voters will remember this and of course be reminded of it by the other parties. If MKay is the best the conservatives can come up with then Trudeau will be easily re=elected.

  2. The Conservative party has embraced economic neoliberalism. Neoliberalism can be confusing because the “liberal” part refers not to the word’s usual usage in politics, meaning moderately left-of-center, but to classical economic liberalism, otherwise known as free-market economics.

    Neoliberalism is thus associated with policies of free-market economic liberalization, including privatization, deregulation, free trade, tax reduction, austerity, slashing social programs and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.

    Neoliberalism’s premise is that free markets can regulate themselves; that government is inherently incompetent, and an intrusion on the efficiency of “the hidden hand” of the market; that in distributive terms, market outcomes are basically deserved; and that redistribution creates perverse incentives by punishing the economy’s winners and rewarding its losers. So government should get out of the market’s way.

    Recent years have seen two spectacular cases of the failure of neoliberalism: the near-depression of 2008 and irreversible climate change.

    Although neoliberalism failed both as theory and as policy, it has succeeded superbly as power politics for economic elites.

    The Conservative party was correct in dropping the name “progressive”, dispensing of any pretense.

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