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And another Minister jumps-ship before the election is called...

MacKay, 49, was a Crown attorney before he was first elected in 1997. He has held several senior cabinet positions since the Conservatives took power in 2006, including foreign affairs and defence.

MacKay also served as the last leader of the now-defunct Progressive Conservative Party, and was a key player in the negotiations that led to the 2003 merger with the Canadian Alliance that created the current Conservative Party. The merger was seen by some in his former party as a betrayal of a deal he signed with leadership rival David Orchard not to run joint candidates with Harper's party.

Harper described that merger as a "willingness to compromise" as he spoke ahead of MacKay's announcement on Friday.

"That moment in October 2003 changed without a shadow of a doubt the course of Canadian politics," Harper said.

His relationship with another leadership rival from his home province, Scott Brison, soured further when Brison left the party to run as a Liberal.

Once voted the "sexiest MP" in a survey by The Hill Times, his personal relationship with another former Tory leadership contender, Belinda Stronach, generated both headlines and gossip fodder when she famously crossed the floor and joined Paul Martin's struggling minority Liberal government in 2005.

MacKay retreated to his father's farm in Nova Scotia and famously quipped that at least the dog he now had for company was loyal, although it was later pointed out that the dog was not his...

Peter MacKay cites 'love for my family' as he bows out of federal politics - Politics - CBC News

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