Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay says that when the time comes to vote on Andrew Scheer’s continued leadership of the party, he’s going to back the Conservative Leader.
The comment comes less than two weeks after MacKay told a Wilson Centre think tank panel in Washington that Scheer’s 2019 election loss “was like having a breakaway on an open net and missing the net.”
Now, MacKay – whose name has been floated as a potential challenger to Scheer for the top spot in the party – told CTV Power Play host Don Martin that he supports the current leader and will continue to do so.
“Well Andrew Scheer is going to face a mandatory review, Don, that’s part of the Conservative constitution, so that will be for he and the membership. I’ll be there, and I’ll be voting no,” MacKay told Martin in a pre-taped interview, airing Monday.
MacKay also walked back other comments made during the same panel on Oct. 30. At the time, MacKay said the chatter about issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage “hung around Andrew Scheer’s neck like stinking albatross, quite frankly.”
Speaking to Martin on Monday, MacKay said those comments weren’t directed at Scheer’s position on those issues.
“Those comments, of course, were torqued. It was about the election performance generally, writ large, myself included. It wasn’t aimed directly at Andrew Scheer – and when I said there was an albatross around his neck, he didn’t put it there. It was put there by the media, it was put there by the opposition quite deliberately to hamstring his performance,” said MacKay.
Asked about the lack of clarity surrounding Scheer’s personal beliefs on same-sex marriage, MacKay couldn’t explain why Scheer hasn’t been more clear.
“I think Andrew Scheer, who has very strong beliefs, doesn’t think it’s a sin and I can’t answer why it is he hasn’t been more direct in his answer,” MacKay said.
MacKay went on to defend both Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party’s record when it comes to protecting human rights.
“Andrew Scheer was part of the Conservative government for ten years that not only didn’t remove rights, it enhanced rights. It spoke up for people’s rights on the international stage…there’s a proud legacy that Andrew Scheer is a part of, can take ownership of, and can proudly stand behind and I believe he is doing that. He’s trying to make that case.”
Scheer was criticized during the election campaign for failing to clarify his personal beliefs on issues including same-sex marriage and abortion. Scheer, a social Conservative who has publicly opposed both issues in the past, says he would uphold the law on abortion.
He also said in a pre-campaign speech that if he formed government, he would “support and introduce” legislation that protects LGBTQ Canadians.