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Today's Big Story

Harper's New Man on Defence

Why Peter MacKay is the perfect pick.

By Richard Warnica 14 Aug 2007 | TheTyee.ca

Richard Warnica is a senior editor at The Tyee.

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Memo to NATO defence ministers: Should you find yourself in a hotel room with your new Canadian counterpart do not, I repeat, do not attempt to engage him in any form of binding agreement. Just trust me on this, even if you have paper and/or pen upon which to record the deal, it is not a good idea.

Yes, Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a bid to restore his government’s credibility on Afghanistan today named Nova Scotia MP and former Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay as his new Minister of Defence.

MacKay’s unblemished record of honesty and straight talk will be a welcome change on the file after the tenure of the increasingly obtuse and contradictory Gordon O’Conner.

Of course those who say nay may quibble with Harper’s choice. After all they might say, if your goal is to bring clarity and openness to your defence forces, MacKay could seem like an odd pick.

Is this not, these obstructionists could point out, the same Peter MacKay who once captured the leadership of a major political party by signing an agreement of which he later kept none of the provisions?

Could it be that this Peter MacKay is also the Peter MacKay who more recently stood in the House of Commons and promised that no Conservative MP would be tossed from caucus for voting against the government’s budget? The Peter MacKay who after fellow Nova Scotian Bill Casey was turfed from the Tories for voting against said budget, justified his promise by saying he never expected anyone to put him in a situation where he’d have to keep it?

But of course that can’t possibly be the same Peter MacKay. After all, giving that Peter MacKay the job of selling Canada’s most significant military engagement in 50 years to an already skeptical Canadian public would be foolish. Charging that Peter MacKay with negotiating the end of Canada’s tenure in war wracked Kandahar would be borderline irrational. I mean you’d almost think that the only way that Peter MacKay could end up as defence minister would be if the Prime Minister intended to run the entire ministry out of his own office anyway. And there’s no way that could happen. Right?  [Tyee]

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