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Moncton Times and Transcript, 06 June, 2003

N.B. Senator Brokers Tory Pact
Noel Kinsella helped orchestrate controversial deal which gave PC leadership to Peter MacKay.

by Campbell Morrison

OTTAWA. New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Senator Noel Kinsella brokered the controversial deal between Tory leadership candidates Peter MacKay and David Orchard that secured MacKay's victory.

He still has the folded piece of paper where his tiny handwritten notes marked the beginning of a four-part deal.

"It's just the job of an old Senator," he said in an interview in his office here yesterday, still looking disheveled after a weekend of deal-making.

In a separate interview yesterday, MacKay said Kinsella's intervention was helpful.

"The senator is a trusted advisor and I appreciated his input," he said.

Kinsella said he was just keeping the lines of communication open as the convention unfolded. A committed MacKay supporter, he is on excellent terms with Orchard. Far from distancing himself and the party from the Saskatchewan organic farmer after his unsuccessful run for the leadership in 1998, Kinsella encouraged him to run as a candidate in the next election.

He also listened very closely to Orchard's final speech Friday and concluded that Orchard was moving toward the centre of the political spectrum where deals are made.

So when voting started Saturday Kinsella suspected he would be dealing with Orchard.

After the second ballot, when candidate Scott Brison fell off the ballot, coming three votes behind third-place candidate Jim Prentice and Brison threw his support behind Prentice, Kinsella knew that Orchard held the key.

"By my calculations, Prentice was going to frog leap over Orchard. So I went to Orchard and his people recognized me. and when I got there, there were a number of Prentice people talking too. I was able to sit down with David and say he and Peter should meet.

After he "stood down", Kinsella returned a short while later and Orchard presented him with his demands.

"I said that in my opinion that the principles that they had were principles that I could live with."

He promised to take them to MacKay and they tentatively set up a meeting at 7 pm. in Orchard's room at the Crown Plaza.

Reporting back to Peter, Kinsella said there was enough for a deal. Orchard's demands on agriculture and the environment were already MacKay's policies; his demand for a review of free trade was also acceptable, and his demand that there be "no fooling around" with the Canadian Alliance fit with party policy of running candidates in all ridings.

"I phoned back", Kinsella said. "David answered himself. I said we had an agreement on the principles. He said, 'see you guys at seven in my suite.'"

Two teams arrived for the meeting but they were trimmed to the candidates and two advisors each. For MacKay, it was Kinsella and Fred Doucet, a former chief of staff to former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

The men fleshed out the deal.

"David had written his points down. Peter took it and changed a word or two," Kinsella said.

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