MacKay not planning to run for NATO Secretary General
If speculation that Defense Minister Peter MacKay was gunning for the soon to be elected position of NATO Secretary General were based merely on rumours, MacKay seemed intent to lay them to rest this week.
"Rumours are just that," MacKay insists. "I have a tremendous amount of work on my plate right now as Canada’s defence minister."
"I’m focused on my role as minister of defence in Canada and building our capacity, which is something that we’ve worked very hard at."
"We have a 20-year predictable Canada-first defence strategy that is going to replace all of our core capabilities and grow the size of our infrastructure and improve upon our operational capacity. All of these things are very live files," MacKay explained.
"We have a tremendous number of procurements complete but more of them in the pipeline. That’s my focus right now, and obviously getting the equipment into our theatre of operations and protecting our men and women in uniform as they carry out their important work in Afghanistan."
MacKay has continued to be as good as his word, announcing $40 million in upgrades to military facilities in Alberta.
The results of MacKay's work have also become evident on the ground in Afghanistan, as Canadian forces conducted a helicopter-borne assault conducted with Canadian helicopters -- a historical first.
MacKay's insistence that he isn't campaigning to be NATO's new Secretary General may seem to defy other recent comments made on the matter.
Then again, it's important to remember that former Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley has also been rumoured as a potential candidate of the job. While direct speculation about Manley seeking the job has been scant, it's important to remember that he's come close before. Manley narrowly lost out to current Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in 2004.
And while MacKay is passing on a tremendous opportunity -- both to further establish himself as a future Conservative leader and Prime Minister and to solidify his party's internationalist credentials -- Manley would also represent Canada with distinction as NATO Secretary General.
Then again in politics it's remarkable how quickly things dismissed as mere rumours can blossom into reality. Politicians as savvy as MacKay has proven to be rarely turn down opportunities on the magnitude of the one that currently seems to have presented itself.