My husband's skin has grown thicker with time, but he worries about what I and the rest of our family think more than anything. Yet, I see the hours he puts in around his constituency and the time he spends on the road as Justice Minister, as he did previously as Minister of Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs, away from his loved ones at home. Since I've known him when he was Foreign Affairs Minister, I have been repeatedly impressed by his empathy and compassion for women and those in need.
It's a powerful letter, this one. In it, Peter MacKay's wife defends her husband as an empathetic, loving man with increasingly thick skin that, quite frankly, doesn't deserve the beating he keeps getting in the media.
I don't buy it. I haven't since I first read it.
I've spent some time thinking about this instinctive rejection of the letter's tone and content. Why do I intuitively feel it's too scripted, too all-encompassing and somehow incongruous wit the actions of the Peter MacKay we've seen on the public sphere for years and years? Or perhaps, why does it seem consistent as the sort of play-the-empathy-card tactic that we've seen him use before?
It's possible that I'm a natural cynic, that I'm more partisan than I lead myself to believe or that I've programmed myself to be mistrustful of all things MacKay. This is why I've spent so much time deconstructing my thoughts before writing this.
Ultimately, it comes down to the dog.
No, not, that dog. The one MacKay borrowed to increase his empathetic appeal after his break up with Belinda Stronach.
It was a clear optics play - a man who has wielded power, broken trust and manipulated countless friends and enemies alike in his quest for power was insincere coming across as a heart-broken man needing warm hugs to heal.
First off, the Belinda Stronach the world knows wouldn't have been interested in a weak-kneed man like that. She's a power-broker and wants to be with people with equal drive and strength of will as she has.
McKay seems to like powerful women himself. He knows the world he's in and would naturally want a partner who gets why he does what he does - 'cause a lot of it ain't nice.
Second off, back to that broken trust thing; MacKay lied to a friend about the future of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, selling out his brand and loyalties for what seemed like a good political deal.
Third off, back to optics - MacKay, in politics for ages, gets the game. He uses it to his advantage. That's what politicians do - they're poor actors, but they aim to frame their public persona none-the-less.
Fourth - his policy record doesn't match up with the bleeding-heart liberal his wife's letter portrays him to be. Case in point, the recent prostitution legislation.
So it's not with cause that I question the sincerity, or at the very least the intent, of the letter.
One thing I still haven't been able to wrap my head around - if MacKay is working 16 hour days, when is it that he's doing all this story-reading, diaper-changing and bathing of his child? The impression the letter tries to convey is that he's all things to all people, a superman. I'm a dad and I've spent much time in and around politics - what I know is that when you're putting in 16 hour days, you're often kissing your kids quickly on your way out the door in the morning and kissing them on the head long after they've gone to bed when you return home.
As a Minister, MacKay spends more time on the road that I've ever done, making quality time with his kids and the recycling that much harder.
Not to say he doesn't do these things, when he can - but when he can will be far less than what the letter implies. It's a great line, though - the kind of thing a seasoned political staffer would come up with.
That I'm even suspicious of whether the letter was written entirely by Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay is pretty disconcerting, but it doesn't come from nowhere. We've seen lies, obfuscations, false statements, bribery of dying men, and many more egregious acts from the Party of which MacKay plays an important role - and he's been in the middle of many of these political truths that negate reality-based truth.
Which, of course, means that I'm even more interested in where the facts that are unquestionable (who raised Peter and how) come to play. As the only boy, it sounds like, in a female-dominated household, was little Peter doted on? Was he pushed harder for being a boy than his female siblings?
I have no idea how MacKay was raised, nor do I know the intimate details of his relationship with his family.
What I do know is that he has been a shrewd, manipulative political operator that knows the value of the right image, and has a tendency in playing the empathy card while trying to get others to come to his defense.
Peter MacKay may very well be an amazing dad, a loving husband and a devoted constituency man. We have very little tactile information to go on either way. What we do know, based on the public record, is that he is partisan first, politician to the max and not to be trusted.
It's really unfortunate how people like this taint all those around them, but that's what you focus on image over substance.