New poll ranks Peter MacKay’s approval rating atop all other Tories

·Politics Reporter

Despite Stephen Harper's insistence that he will lead the Conservative Party in the 2015 election, chatter about his future continues.

In that regard, a new poll by Forum Research is very interesting.

As reported by the Hill Times, Forum recently asked Canadians to register their approval of several high-profile Tories. (The list didn't include Stephen Harper).

On top of the approval rating rankings is none other than Peter MacKay:

- Among leaning or decided Conservative supporters:

Justice Minister Peter MacKay: 53 per cent

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird: 45 per cent

Labour Minister Jason Kenney: 37 per cent

Treasury Board President Tony Clement: 34 per cent

Saskatchewan Premier: Brad Wall: 26 per cent

Former cabinet minister: Jim Prentice: 23 per cent

Industry Minister James Moore: 16 per cent

Minister of State for Small Business Maxime Bernier: 16 per cent

The full Hill Times article can be seen here.

[ Related: Political analysts try to predict Stephen Harper’s 2014 ]

For sometime, the common refrain has been that Jason Kenney would be the person to beat in a Conservative leadership race — when Harper decides to step away.

From 2009 to 2011, as immigration minister, Kenney criss-crossed the country with the sole purpose of wooing visible minority voters over to the Tory tent. Conveniently, he did a great job wooing the demographic for himself; he's achieved rock-star status within ethnic communities across the country.

It's widely believed that the ethnic support gives him a significant leg-up against all other potential leadership rivals.

[ Related: Is Jason Kenney preparing for a leadership race? ]

But, as the Forum survey suggests, MacKay's popularity runs deep with the Conservative Party base and, if at some point he chooses to run for the leadership, he should also be considered a frontrunner.

Talk about MacKay residing at 24 Sussex isn't really new; he was once seen as prime minister material. But, over the past couple of years, his stock has dropped substantially after a series of gaffes and blunders as defence minister.

He was forced to defend himself over a 10 minute trip on a search-and-rescue helicopter in July 2010. The helicopter picked up MacKay from his personal fishing trip in central Newfoundland at a cost to taxpayers of $32,000.

In 2011 , reports surfaced that MacKay incurred pricey hotel tabs during conference stays in Europe, which saw one bill reach $1,452 per night.

He was also blamed for the F-35 boondoggle and other military procurement nightmares.

Now, as justice minister, it seems that MacKay's reputation is on the mend.

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