By Andrew Macdonald
MacPolitics: Exclusive: Jamie Baillie Endorses Peter MacKay
Former ten-year-long NS PC leader Jamie Baillie is endorsing Peter MacKay, for the leadership of the national Conservative leadership.
Back in the 2017 national Tory race, he endorsed Erin O’Toole, now MacKay’s main opponent in the current leadership race.
“I have been asked to do an endorsement video and I expect that to be done shortly”, Baillie tells The Notebook.
Tory card-carrying members across Canada are now mailing in their ballots. The ballots have to be into Tory headquarters by August 21st, to be counted.
Question: You supported O’Toole in the 2017 race, was this a difficult decision this time to endorse MacKay?
Baillie replies to The Notebook: “No, it wasn’t. They are both great people. It’s an embarrassment of riches to have such very strong candidates with Nova Scotia ties”.
“I chose Peter for number one, and I am very happy we have a ranked ballot, so I could rank Erin as number two”.
MacKay is the former 22-year long MP in Central Nova, while O’Toole lived in the Halifax Hydrostones between 1996-2003 when he flew Sea Kings out of Shearwater and attended Dal Law School.
O’Toole in a Notebook interview last winter acknowledged MacKay “is the native son of Nova Scotia, and I am the adopted son of Nova Scotia”.
Baillie says “Peter has (what it takes) to unite the Conservative party, and win the next election. It will be terrific for Nova Scotia to have a Nova Scotian as our prime minister”.
Question: MacKay could not twin the 40-kilometre New Glasgow outskirts to Antigonish 104 HWY, even though it was in MacKay’s backyard – Liberal Scott Brison got the job done. Did MacKay just run out of time on the 104 as a decade long Harper minister?
Baillie replies to the commentary: “Now Andrew, let us count the ways Peter MacKay delivered for Nova Scotia when he was a federal minister in the Harper government. We have the convention centre, the library here in Halifax. Many, many, many miles of twinned highway that Peter MacKay delivered. The Shipbuilding contract was guided to a conclusion while Peter MacKay was minister of Defence – on and on, and on”.
“Yes, he didn’t get every last kilometre done, and I am delighted Scott Brison was able to deliver for (104 HWY), but Peter MacKay did a lot as a minister to help this province advance”, says Baillie.
“I think he deserves out support to be the prime minister for all of Canada, and also, of course, for Nova Scotia”, adds Baillie.
It’s true that MacKay had a pivotal role in delivering $50 million each from Ottawa to both the Nova Centre and the Spring Garden Library – his money ensured three-level government support of the two Halifax projects.
MacKay delivered that money while the NDP held Halifax via Megan Leslie.
“That’s right. One of the things I admire about Peter is that he does the right thing, regardless of who the local MP is, or what party they come from”, Ballie tells me.
“Halifax sometimes feels aggrieved by the federal government in Ottawa, regardless of what political stripe that it is”, he adds.
“But, Peter MacKay did a lot for Halifax, even though Halifax was represented by the other party, and I think that is kind of outlook that Canadians want int their next prime minister, particularly after all the scandals we have seen in the last few months”.
Baillie, who has strong support to this day in the NS PC party, and who came within 230 votes of turning the Liberal Stephen McNeil government into a minority government in the 2017 NS election, says he is doing all he is being asked to do to support MacKay.
“I am doing everything that is being asked to me, but to be more specific, I have made calls, I have helped on debate prep, remotely from here, I participated in some of the Nova Scotia strategy sessions, but really I support him – and that means I do whatever is asked by him, and his campaign team”, says Baillie.
Question: If MacKay wins the Tory race, might you run in Halifax on the MacKay ticket nationally?
Baillie replies to The Notebook: “No, I won’t be doing that. I had a great run provincially and I enjoyed the ten years that I was the leader of the Nova Scotia PCs”, he notes.
“I have no doubt Peter MacKay will attract a new generation of very strong candidates in his home province to run federally, and I look forward to supporting that behind the scenes”.
Question: If MacKay becomes the leader of the Conservative party, how many seats would he win in NS, in the next federal vote?
Baillie replies to The Notebook: “I don’t know if I can give you a specific number, but I will say this: No Liberal seat in Nova Scotia will be safe when Peter MacKay is the leader of the Conservative party of Canada”.
“Even Halifax”, he adds.
The last time the Tory party won Halifax federally was in 1984, during the Brian Mulroney sweep when Stu McInnes took the seat. He lost in 1988 to Liberal Mary Clancy, and Clancy would go on to lose the 1997 race to NDPer Alexa McDonough.
Liberal Andy Fillmore has held the seat since 2015, defeating NDPer Leslie.
Question: Can MacKay take Halifax in the next election as national Tory leader?
Baillie replies to The Notebook: “With the right candidate and a little momentum, anything is possible”.