Gordon O’Connor’s failure to convince Canadians to support the flagging war in Afghanistan, and his repeated missteps such as on the potential torture of Afghan detainees, meant that he had to be replaced.
But will Peter MacKay and Maxime Bernier save the sinking Conservatives on the unpopular war in Afghanistan?
In MacKay’s appointment, Stephen Harper has chosen someone who has shown he will toe the party line at any cost.
For instance Peter MacKay, whose riding is in Nova Scotia, supported the federal government’s controversial position on the Atlantic Accord at a time when the region’s Conservative Premiers were urging him to vote against the federal budget.
And as the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier’s job will be to sell the war to Quebeckers.
Together, the appointments to National Defence and Foreign Affairs indicate that the Harper government does not intend to alter its policy on the unpopular war.
By passing up an opportunity to change direction on Afghanistan to increase public support, the appointments of MacKay and Bernier show that Stephen Harper is climbing out of the lifeboat and back onto the deck of the Titanic.