Peter MacKay with Stephen Harper by his side, calls it quits
OTTAWA - Justice Minister Peter MacKay said farewell to federal politics Friday, saying that, after 18 years as an MP, his young family would be the most important constituents in his life.
“I love what I do. I love the opportunities it afforded me to help others. But, simply put, I love my family more,” an emotional MacKay said at a press conference in Stellarton, N.S., in the riding of Central Nova that he has represented since 1997.
MacKay, 49, and his wife, human rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam, had a son in 2013 and are expecting their second child, a girl, this fall.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper flew from Ottawa to Stellarton to praise MacKay, saying that MacKay deserves a place in Canada’s history books for having the courage as the last leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to agree to a merger, in 2003, with the Canadian Alliance, then led by Harper.
“Peter MacKay will be seen for what he is: a historic figure,” Harper said. “When we created the Conservative Party of Canada 12 years ago, there were two signatures on that agreement -- my own and Peter’s. That moment in October 2003 changed, without a shadow of a doubt, the course of Canadian politics. It took a sense of destiny, it took a spirit of humility and a willingness to compromise.”
Ever since, the two men have had a close and warm relationship.
MacKay served as Harper’s foreign affairs minister, defence minister and justice minister.
“I hope that my record will show that I worked hard and that I did my best for the people of Nova Scotia and for my country,” MacKay said.
MacKay’s decision not to seek re-election follows the decision by another party heavyweight, John Baird, to quit politics. International Development Minister Christian Paradis and Heritage Minister Shelly Glover have also announced they will not seek re-election.