I’m a huge Brian Mulroney fan.
So, it’s been great to see Mr. Mulroney in the news a lot this week.
He’s spoken up on a number of big issues, and that’s a good thing.
Why is that? Because Mr. Mulroney is a big picture thinker. Always was, still is, and always will be.
Canadian politics could do with more big picture thinkers these days. More, bigger, bolder ideas that tap into our national ambition and resolve. Not the timid incrementalism of hitting singles and edging forward with policy nibbles here and there. We need to swing for the fences more often.
As Mr. Mulroney told me when he cordially invited me into his office for a chat while I was a 2017 Conservative leadership candidate, “We need government that’s focused on the next ten years, and not the next ten-day news cycle.” It’s likely now a ten-hour news cycle.
Our eighteenth Prime Minister focused on bold ideas. That’s why he accomplished big, bold things: a free trade agreement; a smart sales tax; acid rain treaty; a win against apartheid; and two successive majority Conservative governments.
Like all of us, he’s not without blemishes. Or failures. But I’ll take this man’s swings and misses any day if that’s the price for stepping up and getting big things done that have changed Canada for the better, forever. This man’s a giant home run hitter if there ever was one.
This past week we’ve heard his views on big issues again. He’s urging Canada’s political leaders to embrace bold economic and social policies in a post-COVID world. He’d like to see a sharp increase in immigration, more free trade inside Canada and in the Americas, a guaranteed income for those below the poverty line, and an end to systemic racism against Canada’s Indigenous people.
And he came out with a hard line against China, praising Prime Minister Trudeau for ignoring calls to cave in to China’s ransom demands for the two Michaels. He wants Canada to drop Huawei and embrace a stronger, more forceful foreign policy against China.
My 45-minute meeting with Mr. Mulroney in his Montreal office that day in 2017 was a tour-de-force of humour, intellect, insight and vision. And it was one of the most inspirational moments of my life.
“Whatever you do,” he said, as we ended the meeting, “go into this with big ideas. Attack big projects. Do big things for Canada, in any way you can.”
That’s great advice for all of us, but especially for those of us who are political candidates. As a Conservative leadership candidate, I embraced bold ideas: zero corporate income tax; 15% flat tax; elimination of supply management; increased immigration; repeal of many of our silly gun laws; carbon pricing on GHG intensity for large emitters; increased oversight on and accountability of the Conservative Fund of Canada; more power, recognition and financial support to Conservative EDAs.
And as I work towards seeking the Conservative nomination in Edmonton Strathcona, I can already see the tremendous potential in our riding. Big things are there if we want.
I can see our riding hosting and supporting some of the most exciting technology advances that will help Alberta become a world leader in carbon free hydrogen. I see our University of Alberta become Canada’s largest incubator of tech start ups. I see Canada’s next tech unicorn - $1 billion market valuation – come from our campus. I see our Edmonton Strathcona francophones taking a bigger, bolder role in our Party. I see our small business owners thriving and growing as we help advance policies that drive in lower taxes and more customers. And I see our more Edmonton Strathcona mothers going back to work with private sector employers stepping up with better childcare options.
Let’s think big for Edmonton Strathcona. I am.
- Rick Peterson
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