Peter MacKay says he regrets how ‘stinking albatross’ comment was viewed

REGINA — Federal Conservative leadership candidate Peter MacKay says he regrets how some people interpreted his comment that current leader Andrew Scheer’s socially conservative values were a “stinking albatross.”

MacKay made the remark after the last federal election in referring to how Scheer was dogged by questions during the campaign and afterwards about same-sex marriage and abortion.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney referenced MacKay’s comment in an email this week in which Kenney endorsed leadership candidate Erin O’Toole.

“I regret the way people have interpreted it, how it was torqued, how it was misconstrued and it might have been a little raw at the time,” MacKay said during a campaign stop Friday in Scheer’s hometown of Regina.

“But I think as Conservatives if we want to win, we’ve got to be honest with ourselves. We have to address some of the shortcomings that Canadians saw in our campaign the last time, and we have to be a little bit more forward-looking and optimistic, and putting things in the window that people can vote for, not just against.”

MacKay — who says he’s pro-choice and for equal marriage — said his comment was based on the poem ”The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which he read as a child.

The poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge tells the story of a sailor who kills an albatross. His crewmates hang the dead bird around his neck to remind him of what he’s done and he can’t get rid of it.

MacKay said he’s focused on the economy and is pitching a more centrist and moderate message than Scheer, whose roots in Saskatchewan added to the party’s popularity in the province that sent only Conservative MPs to Ottawa. Even longtime Regina Liberal MP and cabinet minister Ralph Goodale was defeated.

Despite Kenney’s endorsement of O’Toole, MacKay said he’s confident his support in the West is strong. He said he views himself as aligned with both Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe over their concerns with how the federal Liberal government has handled the economy and a carbon tax.

A spokesman for Moe said the premier will not endorse anyone in the race.

MacKay said he believes Conservatives will continue to perform well in Saskatchewan and Alberta, although they need to grow elsewhere.

“People need to see themselves in this party. It needs to modernize. We have to have a comprehensive plan for the environment.

“It’s not enough to just say we’ll get rid of the carbon tax. We have to say what we’ll do to address escalating greenhouse gas emissions.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2020

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

canadian politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shaun Janse van Rensburg, a Red Deer resident, said he is tired of changing clocks twice a year. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
After COVID, Kenney may consider referendum on daylight savings

Albertans may be divided on several issues today, but there’s a consensus… Continue reading

COVID-19-death toll in Alberta reached 309 according to numbers posted on the province’s website Tuesday afternoon. (Image courtesy CDC)
Another 422 COVID cases reported in Alberta and two more deaths

The Alberta government confirmed 422 COVID-19 cases Tuesday and two more virus… Continue reading

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
COVID-19 death toll verges on 10,000 as second wave continues to surge

Nearly 10,000 Canadians have died due to COVID-19, a mark of the… Continue reading

The Red Deer RCMP has filed another set of charges after an alleged assault at an anti-racism rally on Sept. 20. (File photo by Advocate Staff)
More assault charges filed after Sept. 20 anti-racism rally in Red Deer

Trevor Lyle Roy faces a second set of charges stemming from the event

Your weather forecast for Thursday, August 1st, 2019. (Pixabay)
Expect a slightly windy day in Red Deer Tuesday

Expect a slightly windy day in Red Deer. Although as of noon… Continue reading

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Indigenous fishermen head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. A First Nation in Nova Scotia that was struggling to sell its lobster harvest amid tensions over its self-regulated fishery says it has managed to find a buyer for a portion of its catch. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan
Another First Nation in Nova Scotia plans to start a self-regulated lobster fishery

Another First Nation in Nova Scotia plans to start a self-regulated lobster fishery

The TMX Group logo, home of the TSX, is shown in Toronto on June 28, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
North American stock markets flat a week ahead of U.S. election

North American stock markets flat a week ahead of U.S. election

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adjusts his mask as he leaves a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. About 130 tech CEOs in Canada are accusing the prime minister of ignoring the needs of the innovation economy and being slow to enact data and intellectual property policies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘We need a champion in government’: Tech CEOs want prosperity strategy from Trudeau

‘We need a champion in government’: Tech CEOs want prosperity strategy from Trudeau

The corporate logo of Teck Resources Limited is shown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Vancouver miner says sale of oilsands stake more likely as output allowed to rise

Vancouver miner says sale of oilsands stake more likely as output allowed to rise

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds split rapid-housing cash between big cities, offer up rest for projects

Feds split rapid-housing cash between big cities, offer up rest for projects

Cilantro and Chive Owner Rieley Kay is set to open a second location, this time in Red Deer. (Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express)
Cilantro and Chive excited to open second location

New spot will open early in 2021 and is located near Westerner Park

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Most Read