Condi Rice on her night with Peter MacKay

Rice credits it with helping her decide not to quit her job


In her new political memoir, No Higher Honor, Condoleezza Rice, devotes little ink to her dealings with Canada. Most mentions are fleeting and rate less than a sentence: there is Canada training police in Haiti, “standing aside” during the Iraq invasion, “bristling” while other NATO countries limited their own rules of engagement in Afghanistan, or participating in “unsettling” meetings on the lack of military coordination there. Former prime minister Jean Chretien gets a sentence all to himself for telling other G8 leaders he was “appalled” by a speech in which George W. Bush called for the ouster of Yasser Arafat.

And then there is Peter MacKay. He gets almost a page.

It turns out their evening together in Nova Scotia 2006 was more than just grist for the gossip mill — Rice credits it with helping her decide not to quit her job.

Back in 2006, Rice was in the midst of wrestling with vice president Dick Cheney over issues of Guantanamo detainees, rendition, and military commissions. One of their disputes was “the most intense confrontations of my time in Washington,” she writes. Between fighting internal battles and defending the administration’s unpopular actions to the press and foreign governments, she was ready to call it quits. During a moment of silence on the White House lawn on Sept. 11, 2006, she was ready to leave: “I have been doing this too long, I thought. Tomorrow I am going to tell the President that I want to leave at the end of the year. I can’t do this anymore.”

But first she had a trip scheduled to Canada –to Nova Scotia, the home province of her “friend and colleague” MacKay, then the foreign minister, to thank Canadians for taking in stranded American air travellers on 9/11.

“Peter who is single, hosted me for ‘family’ dinner at a lodge on the Atlantic coast. It was just what I needed — relaxed and low key. That night I slept very well with the cool ocean breeze coming through my open window. The next morning, Peter and I walked to a local coffee shop for breakfast.”

When MacKay mentioned how well Rice had slept, and mentioned her open window at their joint press conference, Rice writes, “I immediately heard a soft snicker among the crowd, and I tried to laugh his comment off at the beginning of my speech. But the scene had been set.”

The subsequent New York Times report about “our supposed flirtation” which noted “the foreign minister’s good looks and my black pencil skirt”, writes Rice, “made a mountain out of a molehill.”

But it wasn’t without consequence. Rice continues:

I have to admit it was kind of funny, if misdirected. When I got home, I called Peter. “A girl can’t be seen with you without some scandal,” I joked. Peter was kind of embarrassed. He is a good friend. And I’ve never told him that without the levity and refreshment of that visit, I might not have regrouped and returned to Washington to fight another day.



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Condi Rice on her night with Peter MacKay

  1. Another thing to blame MacKay for.

  2. Did the spend the evening lying to each other?

  3. Imagine if Bernier had been Foreign Affairs at the time…

  4. I really wish Canadians would get to that point when we simply don`t care how little we matter in global politics and quit looking for glowing praise wherever we can scrape it up.

    • I think that while it’s clear that the press cares and a few exclusively-outward looking Canadaians do along with them, you’ll find that the vast majority of us couldn’t give a toss about what the greater global political theatre thinks (or doesn’t think) about us. We certainly *do* spend much time being *told* that we care and hand-wring about it though.

  5. Rice, “made a mountain out of a molehill.”


  6. He should be the next leader  he knows what he is doing.

    • Yes, he’s completely credible.

      • LOL

        See my comment above.


    • LOL

      I liked this comment because I think it’s hilarious, but then I wondered, are other people liking it because it’s so funny, or do some people think it’s TRUE?

    • And what’s he doing again? Keeping Canada safe from those Taleban divisions massing in Nunavut?

  7. I love this story. Did they go to bed together? It would be great if they did. A power one night stand that changed history. We will never know because neither of them strikes me as the kiss and tell type. Plus, you know, if they had done, some snoopy-nose would tell, and they both knew that. 

    An interesting tension. Two powerful and attractive single people finding a bond and knowing that it can never be consummated because of the visibility of their lives. Trapped in their individual cages.

    Or perhaps the idea of bedtime together never once popped into their serious minds. That’s something we don’t need to know. Leave it to speculation. 

    Let’s have the movie. We don’t need to see them in bed, we must be left wondering, but there’s a good story here.

    Somebody? Investigate, interview, and write this up please.

    • You have a funny idea of what constitutes history. 

      • I assume you meant “history” like “History 101”. 

        I’m fairly sure that their meeting is not an event that will find a place in high school yearbooks, but it will be a topic of interest for at least some serious historians of the Bush administration. What did he say? Why did it change her mind? What were the consequences of that decision? 

        And what does it tell us of Rice? It tells us that she had intimate and personal relationships that changed the direction of her life. She was not a woman with a hard-coded agenda, she was a woman who struggled with her decisions. That’s an important piece of information when we’re dissecting the interpersonal dynamics of the Bush administration. 

        History is more than dates of watershed moments. How much of history has turned on intimate personal details? 

        Was Lewinsky having fun? Is that question important? Yes! Knowledge of that gives us insight into Clinton. She’s having fun that makes him one kind of man. She’s not that makes him a very different other kind. Libertine or abuser? Two different presidents.

  8. I am going to have nightmares after reading this.

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