I am surprised during the course of this campaign how many people have told me they have never voted for a CMA President. I started to wonder why. How does a candidate make the election relevant to everyone? How do we make it real? There are some issues…
- The electoral process is not clear to the average physician. I would love to see this changed so that it is less complex and more apparent to members. Currently the President Elect Nominee is elected separately from the selection of CMA Board Members, who are put forward by their provincial medical associations through a process which happens locally. The President Elect of CMA comes from the general membership and is rotated around the country in four zones: Quebec, Ontario, East, West. This means Ontario can select a President Elect once every four years. It is difficult to keep physicians engaged in a process that they can be involved in so irregularly. Thus they don’t pay attention when the vote comes around.
- The issues CMA advocates for nationally are longer lasting and less “in your face”
compared to those dealt with provincially. Provincial Medical Associations have the hard job of fighting for how doctors are paid, acting as our union in negotiations about every four years (or for the last five years in Ontario!). They face health system reform locally. They are often placed in an adversarial position with Ministers of Health and provincial governments. They often invoke a fighting mentality which gets lots of media and public airtime. National issues like Pharmacare, indigenous health, environmental concerns and MAID legislation seem more distant and removed from the average day-to-day life of many doctors, even though they are incredibly important to our culture as Canadians. It is important to make these real to physicians without invoking crisis language that pushes us to react rather than act. The conversations I want to have and the culture I want to create as President stand to change this over time.
- The process of getting elected is “Big P” political, as in any electoral race. Being the President, though, is much more “small p”. Once elected, the President becomes the spokesperson for the entire Association. They will be advocating for things that sometimes do not match their own view or platform. They must become a leader rather than a politician. This creates conflict in some physician’s eyes with a perception of loss of authenticity. In office Presidents are often blamed for “losing touch with members” and “selling out”. I honestly believe that it is possible to retain both honesty and integrity while leading a national organization. One can use the provincial place they come from as a launching pad for conversations that are broader in nature. It takes a special skill set and experience to navigate this transition. I have gained that skill set in my work with both the OMA and CMA in the past. I will never disengage from the problems of today in preparing for the issues of tomorrow.
- Our membership has changed. There was a time when it was simply expected that you join your medical association. It came with the territory. Now, though, we are training a generation of physicians who do not find just associating tremendously useful. They want to connect with values, and these values are always in flux, changing with the ebb and flow of the times. There is far less “stickiness” and loyalty to a group, and much more to a cause. I believe that CMA must come to terms with this and create the space that encourages it. We must change with our members, rather than have our members change to suit the Association. Doing so will create a modernization of the CMA that has never been seen before. I plan to make this real and public. I plan to connect the dots for our members so that they see why the CMA has value and is important in our shared values.
There are many issues on the table in this election. There is an evolving culture at CMA that is pivotal to the future of physicians. We need federal policy that underpins the work we do every day, even if it is very long-term. I want to bridge the gap between this policy and practice for all of us. I will lead with authenticity and clarity. I will be a President who can translate the values of members to the CMA and the same in reverse. I will bring #BoldPhysicianLeadership back again. I hope you will support me on February 15th.