It appears that we wrote Peter MacKay’s political obituary a bit too soon. For the time being, it appears that he is not going anywhere. After five years of costly mistakes, the Prime Minster apparently feels that Minister MacKay just needs a few more years on the job to get the hang of things (Lee Berthiaume, “Why Peter MacKay seemingly flies above the flak,” Ottawa Citizen, 5 July 2012):
There is also a belief the prime minister, already smarting from having to replace [Minister for International Co-operation Bev] Oda for her lavish spending, was keenly aware that a major shuffle would send a message that his government is in trouble — or even that he was to blame for appointing poor candidates.
Spector believes MacKay has been bloodied by the fall-out over the F-35 fiasco and his use of a search-and-rescue helicopter during a fishing trip in 2010, but that he was saved by a conscious decision on Harper’s part not to shuffle his cabinet now.
“(Harper) does not want to contribute to the narrative that he has problems,” Spector said. “The reason he didn’t move on MacKay, assuming he will at some point, is that he made the strategic decision not to have a real cabinet shuffle at this point.”
If the prime minister stays true to his word and doesn’t shuffle his cabinet anytime soon — and if MacKay doesn’t leave politics — he will become the longest serving defence minister since Sir Frederick William Borden held the post between 1896 and 1911.
Those interviewed agreed that as with any minister, whether MacKay stays or goes ultimately comes down to the prime minister — and the endless political calculation of pros and cons.
“And this prime minister keeps the political calculus and strategic implications of his decisions very close to his chest,” said Queen’s University political scientist Jonathan Rose.