Code Blue

OK, that was an impressive win.


Pierre Poilievre fully deserves to be congratulated on his very impressive and well-deserved Conservative Party of Canada leadership victory. It was indeed a blowout.


He now has complete control of his Party and deserves it. Thanks to a campaign built on a foundation that was years in the works and flawlessly executed, Mr. Poilievre delivered a compelling message that caught the winds of anger and frustration that are clearly blowing in Canada.


That was the easy part. Now comes the hard part – the real campaign for Prime Minister. And that means delivering a resonating message – in substance and style – to the 49% of Canadians who consider themselves mainstream, or centrists.


These are the people who decide swing ridings, and thus decide who will be our next Prime Minister.


Yes, yes – we know. There are voices predicting that Mr. Poilievre can become Prime Minister by ignoring the centre. “This time it’s different,” they say.


Malarkey.


For sure, just because centrist Canadians have decided the outcome of every federal election since Confederation doesn’t mean history will repeat itself. But, we think, as they say in financial markets, “the trend is your friend”. We’ll place our chips on the centre.


At Centre Ice Canadians, we have a very simple view of things. We strongly believe that if Mr. Poilievre addresses the issues that count the most to centrist Canadians, and stays away from some of the other distractions that marked his leadership campaign at times, he’ll become Prime Minister.


His leadership acceptance speech was excellent, and a step in the right direction. Full kudos to him.


So, what’s the key issue he needs to attack today to fully win over centrists and carve a path to power?


It’s health care. By a mile.


It’s on life support – it’s clearly a “Code Blue” issue.


Nowhere is the need for real solutions and connection with centre ice Canadians more apparent than on this file.


Millions of us don’t have a family doctor.


Listings of emergency room wait times across the country often look more like a long-haul flight schedule than anything that could reasonably be called ‘urgent’ care.


The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized that our critical care capacity sits right on the brink of collapse.


Our dedicated healthcare professionals are consistently overworked as they attempt to hold the entire system together by the thinnest of threads.


The list of issues is long and complex, while the list of meaningful actions taken by government to date is short and largely superficial.


Here’s a brutally frank and compelling view of the mess by Tony Fell, retired former CEO of RBC Dominion Securities and likely the leading Canadian investment banker of his generation.


And here’s an idea: if Mr. Poilievre wanted to appoint a federal Health Care Czar, tasked with cleaning up the health care mess, then Tony Fell should be #1 on a list of one.


At Centre Ice Canadians, we have some more ideas coming up shortly. We’re holding our second policy conference, following one we held in Edmonton last month. We’ll be in Halifax on October 28th with our “Kickstarting Canada” conference, and health care is the #1 issue on an agenda that also covers military/foreign policy and Atlantic Canada growth opportunities.


We’re going to ask each panel to come up with five actionable, realistic and impactful ideas that could be adopted today by any federal government.


Our goal is to walk out of the conference with a pragmatic action plan that speaks directly to the concerns of many Canadians. If Mr. Poilievre wants to act on it, we’d be thrilled. As we would be if Messrs. Singh or Trudeau take it under their wings. We don’t care who steals our ideas.


As the saying goes, it’s amazing what can get done when nobody cares who gets the credit.


At Centre Ice Canadians, our mandate remains the same, no matter who becomes leader of any Party: provide a voice and platform for mainstream Canadians who place a priority on smart policy over partisan politics. In doing so, we’re changing the way we do politics in Canada.


Today, it’s clear that all Canadians are calling for action on health care. And they don’t care who delivers the solutions.


We’re going to help them.


Rick Peterson and Michael Stuart are Edmonton businessmen and co-founders & directors of Centre Ice Canadians.