Ah, Peter MacKay, we hardly knew ye (thank G-d!); after 20 years in federal politics and now you’re retirin’. Here at Dooney’s Dictionary we were truly dreading having to crank up some cynicism and bile as we marked your parliamentary passing. But, mirabile dictu, and hark!, the herald angels sing, along came the conservative (but, we always add, “intelligent and competent”) columnist, Andrew Coyne, to do the job for us. You’ve no idea how nice it is to get out of work. Reverend Coyne, over to you:
“His career at the top of Canadian politics tells us more about the state of Canadian politics than anything else. That such a palpable cipher could have remained in high office for nearly a decade is a testament to many things: the thinness of the Tory front bench, the decline of cabinet, the prime minister’s cynicism, the media’s readiness to go along with the joke. The one thing it does not signify is his importance. He had all of the titles, but little influence, and less achievement. That he has now discovered a desire to spend more time with his family rather than run for re-election (though earlier this year he had insisted he had filed his nomination papers) may be a sign he is anticipating defeat, or that he is anticipating a patronage post — as ambassador to the United States, perhaps, or as a judge — or even that he is anticipating a future leadership run. It is not much more than that.
“The notion being put about that MacKay was some sort of tempering influence on Harper, or that without him — pillar of an Atlantic caucus that is about to be wiped out, leader of the half dozen-strong Progressive Conservative wing of the party — the party’s chances in the next election are appreciably diminished, is the triumph of journalism’s relentless search for significance, even where none exists. It is Harper’s party now? It has always been Harper’s party — though in fairness it is a party that now stands for just about the same things MacKay does, so far as anyone can tell.
“It seems unlikely that history will record this as the end of ‘the MacKay era.’ It is difficult to speak of a MacKay legacy, or MacKayism, at least with a straight face. Indeed, it is difficult to recall much about him even now. Though not gone, he is forgotten. We shall look upon his like again.”
— Andrew Coyne, National Post, May 29, 2015
We couldn’t have sneered it better ourselves.