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Canada Gallery
Monday October 3, 2005
Tory leader Stephen Harper says he does not understand why some are accusing him of not doing enough to keep his deputy Peter MacKay in Ottawa.

"I don't understand what the story is," said Harper in Kitchener, Ont. on Saturday. "I've discussed this issue with Peter. Peter told me he had no interest, whatsoever, in leaving federal politics.

"Obviously I have made Peter my deputy leader which is the highest position I could give to any member of my caucus."

Conservatives in Nova Scotia have been campaigning to bring MacKay back to his home province to run for the provincial party's leadership in the wake of Premier John Hamm's decision to leave office.

While many federal Tories have urged MacKay to stay, the chorus clamouring to keep him in Ottawa appeared to be missing the voice of the party leader.

"I would never make a decision like this without speaking to Mr. Harper and others, and I would certainly have that discussion with the leader," MacKay told CTV News on Friday.

But when asked if Harper was encouraging him one way or the other, MacKay said, "No."

Harper was criticized in the past for not trying to hold onto MP Belinda Stronach -- now a cabinet minister under Prime Minister Paul Martin.

MacKay said he was staying in Ottawa: Harper
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