Service to country and community
Peter MacKay (’87)
Peter MacKay (’87), QC, is a partner in the Toronto office of prestigious law firm Baker McKenzie. Prior to joining the firm in 2016, he represented Nova Scotia ridings in the Parliament of Canada for more than 18 years. When the Conservative Party of Canada came to power in 2006, MacKay became Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. He moved from Foreign Affairs to Defence in a 2007 Cabinet shuffle, where he remained as minister until July 15, 2013. From there, he assumed the Justice portfolio and became Attorney General of Canada until November 2015. Earlier that year, he had announced he would not seek re-election.
“How did Acadia prepare me for politics? Acadia has very strong academic traditions, with an atmosphere that encourages critical and creative thinking, complemented by the open and welcomed dialogue between professors and students,” MacKay says. “It fosters the spirit of being involved in your community and country. Acadia was very fertile ground for development as a young person. It is such a part of the community that you feel like you are a part of the town and the Annapolis Valley immediately upon setting foot on campus.”
“Acadia has very strong academic traditions, with an atmosphere that encourages critical and creative thinking, complemented by the open and welcomed dialogue between professors and students.”
Family tradition influenced MacKay’s decision to attend Acadia. He grew up in Wolfville, and his older sister Cethlyn (’86) went to Acadia, as did two younger sisters, Mary Louise (’89) and Rebecca (’95). Both of his parents, Elmer MacKay (’60) – also a former MP and federal minister – and the late Macha (Delap) MacKay (’60), earned degrees from Acadia, and his paternal grandfather and all his grandfather’s siblings also attended.
“The family connection was definitely a factor – that other family members had gone to Acadia and I was familiar with it growing up,” MacKay says. “I had spent time on the campus as early as high school, attending football games and visiting. It seemed like the right thing to do. There was continuity in my education in going to Acadia so it was very attractive. It felt very much like home when I got there.”
Playing rugby and intramural hockey took up much of his free time. “Ironically, I was not ever involved or interested in student politics,” he says. “In fact, I avoided it like the plague. But I did follow politics and took a double major in history and political science.”
In 2003, MacKay received Acadia’s Distinguished Alumni Award. He is the founder of the highly regarded Halifax International Security Forum, which he hosted beginning in 2009. He has served on numerous volunteer boards and is on the National Board of Special Olympics Canada and the board of Wounded Warriors Canada; he is also Co-Chair of the Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre.