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Mac Kay has publicly stated that the major impetus for his entry into federal politics was his frustrations with the shortcomings in the justice system, particularly his perception that the courts do not care about the impact crime has on victims.

He was one of a handful of newly elected "Young Turk" PC MPs (including John Herron, André Bachand and Scott Brison), who were under 35 years old when elected and were considered the future leadership material that might restore the ailing Tories to their glory days.

Mac Kay was re-elected in the 2000 federal election and was frequently touted by the media as a possible successor to PC Party leader Joe Clark.Mac Kay formally launched his leadership campaign in his hometown of New Glasgow in January 2003.From the onset of the campaign, Mac Kay insisted that his primary goal upon assuming the leadership would be the rebuilding the fractured conservative movement from within the PC tent.With the defeat of the Conservatives in the 2015 election, Mac Kay was considered a potential candidate to succeed Harper as permanent leader of the party.Mac Kay is married to Nazanin Afshin-Jam, an Iranian-Canadian model, singer, and human rights activist, as well as a former Miss World Canada.

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