Tuesday, March 24, 2009

 

SMITTEN WITH PETER

Single Mom and California Democrat Representative, Ellen Tauscher, quoted at an international defence conference a couple of days ago claimed: "As a North American, the Canadian Defence Minister is a star for us in our bilateral relationship."

Yep! Like her predecessors Belinda Stronach and Condoleezza Rice yet another powerful woman of politics appears to have fallen for our bachelor Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay. Sources in Washington note that Congresswoman Tauscher, is about to be nominated as President Obama's handpicked choice for Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

At the weekend European defence conference where Representative Tauscher was quoted; Minister MacKay appeared to back-off from his bid for a top political defence job, Secretary-General of the NATO alliance. Many agree that much like Marlon Brando in the 1954 blockbuster "On The Waterfront"; Mr. MacKay..."could have been a contender". But, it now seems the Americans will side with France, The United-Kingdom, Germany and other European NATO partners to name Denmark's Prime-Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, to head the North Atlantic Treaty Organization when its General Assembly convenes late next week.

The move by the U.S. is a political tactic to bolster European support for President Obama's plans for prosecuting the Afghan War and is hardly reflective of official Washington's opinion on Peter MacKay. But: It effectively derails his bid for the post of Secretary-General.

In Ottawa some believe that the Defence Minister was seeking NATO's top job to both bolster his international profile while putting distance between him and the Prime-Minister, Stephen Harper. It's been expected that Mr. MacKay will go after the Leadership of the Conservative Party either by eventually challenging the P.M., or in the more likely event that Mr. Harper steps down should the Conservatives' national status not improve in the next Federal election. Mr. Harper has so far twice failed in bids to win majority elections. Current polls and the ascendancy of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff suggest a no less difficult election for the Conservatives when the Government is defeated in the House of Commons.

There's a cadre of "Red Tory" former Progressive-Conservatives anxious to work with MacKay as the party leadership candidate to wrestle-down the grip of the Reform/Alliance Alberta right-wing, or at least keep the party from moving into the camp of the Ontario Mike Harris "Common Sense" revolutionaries like Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty. That list likely includes the P.C.'s "Grey Eminence" the former Prime-Minister, Brian Mulroney. MacKay's father Elmer, and Barbara McDougall, both of whom served in Mulroney's Cabinet; and seasoned backroom organizers, Senators Hugh Segal and Lowell Murray.

Mr. MacKay's bid to lead NATO may be dead. But judging from the comments of Representative Ellen Tauscher who serves on several powerful Congressional Committees, including the Armed Services Committee, it seems the Defence Minister is indeed being noticed in all of the correct Washington political circles.

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