STELLARTON — An ebullient overflow crowd roared its approval on Saturday as Peter MacKay made official his bid for the federal Conservative party leadership.
A capacity crowd that resulted in standing room only crammed the Museum of Industry’s main lobby, including many long-time supporters who joined current and past provincial Progressive Conservative MLAs, to salute MacKay’s impending return to federal politics.
MacKay noted how he announced his resignation from federal politics five years before at the museum, citing a wish to spend more time with his family.
“I could not be more proud,” said provincial PC leader Tim Houston, who introduced MacKay. “Peter has the experience, the personality and the values to be our next prime minister of Canada.”
Referring to MacKay’s initial tweet signalling his desire to contest the Conservative leadership — “I’m in. Stay tuned,” Houston said, “I never thought four little words could excite me so much. Peter is the person who can unite this country.”
Party and national unity were main themes in MacKay’s nearly 20-minute address, but he found time for comic relief.
”I spoke with our son Kian about my decision to run,” he said. “I explained it was a race or competition I hope to win. He said, ‘I would vote for you Dad, but I don’t know who else is running’.”
January 25, the birth date the Bard of Scotland, Robert Burns was not lost on MacKay, who coined Burns’ quote: “Oh the gift that God could give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”
“Politicians, take heed,” MacKay added.
MacKay, speaking in both official languages, said people prompted him to enter and re-enter politics, including what he said his parents instilled in him when he was younger.
“You can’t pass by a person in trouble,” he said. “If you believe you can help, you have to do it. Be a good Samaritan. Always help someone in need, whether a neighbour or even a stranger. It’s the people who build this country, who work hard, who take initiative. Who know that the fruits of success are there to harvest if you keep on with determination. It’s people. It’s their dreams. It’s your dream.”
He excoriated how the governing Liberals “pit city against country, businesses against businesses and region against region … I can’t pass by my country while this government makes life harder for our citizens. I can’t stand by and hope someone else will do the job that needs to be done.”
MacKay described “one big blue tent” where all the Conservative factions can move past their divisions to once again form government.
“Together, we’ll expand outward the big blue tent while strengthening its solid poles of conservative principle. Together, we’ll win and form a united, strong, and democratic government for Canada.”
Peter MacKay is congratulated by local supporters. (Goodwin photo)