How the Conservatives could have won
How could the Conservatives have done better in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto? They won the national vote and gained 22 seats. Despite the SNC Lavalin affair, blackface, rising deficit forecasts, and broken Trudeau promises, in Ontario, their share of the vote was only 33.2% (down two per cent from 2015) and in Quebec, the share was 16 per cent (down nearly one per cent).
Andrew Scheer failed to broaden his support by demonstrating greater concern about climate change – and modifying his earlier positions on abortion and same-sex marriage. In healthcare and other areas, he did not utilize many arguments at his disposal.
Trudeau compared Scheer to Premier Doug Ford, and warned of cuts to healthcare and other areas. Yet the Liberals had slashed health benefits to the Canadian Armed Services (but not to federal prisoners); Scheer did not draw attention to this.
Trudeau criticized Scheer for being secretive about his US citizenship. Trudeau failed to mention that he had voted in Ottawa in May 2018, as a resident of Ontario. Thus, he almost certainly has a fully portable Ontario health card – unlike his Papineau constituents. Sheer might have garnered votes from Quebec residents who wished to travel – by pledging to meet with Premier Legault, and inducing him to provide fully portable medical benefits to all Quebecers. Quebec’s surplus for 2018-19 is $3.4-4.6 billion, and could afford to comply with the Canada Health Act, and pay “host-province rates” for physician services in other provinces.
Health was a top issue, but, except for pharmacare, was barely mentioned in the debates. Scheer did not suggest targeted funding in areas of healthcare controlled by Ottawa. These include facilitating access to care across Canada and in other countries. Scheer only pledged to increase the Canada Health Transfer by at least 3%, plus funds to replace MRI and CT equipment.
Backorders of drugs have worsened, invalidating travel insurance not only for “snowbirds” but for many with diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Only PEI and the three territories are meeting hospital costs outside the country. These could likely be met if Ottawa were to pledge a targeted one per cent increase in the Canada Health Transfer.
Charles S. Shaver, MD