This makes Whyte’s grand question about bilingualism slightly less relevant to the case. Leaving aside suspicions concerning any candidate’s fundamental literacy, the question “Why doesn’t Peter MacKay speak French?” is still a different one from “Should the next Conservative leader, ideally, speak French?” MacKay has been waiting for a turn at the Conservative helm since the party was created by means of his accord with Stephen Harper in autumn 2003. This, indeed, is the source of whatever popular nationwide strength he may have in the coming contest: the “It’s his time!” argument.
MacKay has been a member of Parliament, and thus had access to the best, most efficient second-language education anyone knows how to administer, for most of that time. It just looks as though French wasn’t a big priority for him. Not big enough to receive significant attention over a 16-year period, anyhow.