01/21/2016 14:11 EST | Updated 01/21/2017 00:12 EST

Peter MacKay says there's plenty of time to consider a possible leadership bid

FREDERICTON — Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay says he's keeping his eyes on the issues, but he has plenty of time to consider whether to enter the federal Conservative leadership race.

The leadership convention is now set for May 2017, and MacKay says 16 months is a long time to be involved in any contest.

Recent polls have named MacKay as an early frontrunner, but he says right now his priority is to spend time with his young family.

He did not run in last October's federal election that saw the Liberals win a majority government and capture all 32 seats in Atlantic Canada, including MacKay's former Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova.

Speaking in Fredericton, MacKay said a decision on becoming a leadership candidate is more about timing than other factors.

MacKay was the final leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada before he and Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper agreed to merge the parties in 2003.

The Canadian Press