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Former B.C. Premier Christy Clark speaks to the media on July 31, 2017.The Canadian Press

Former British Columbia premier Christy Clark says Centre Ice Canadians, a self-described “pragmatic, centrist” advocacy group led by prominent conservatives, would have an easier time achieving its aims if it didn’t follow through on its ambition to transform itself into a political party.

Instead, Ms. Clark, who was a keynote speaker at Centre Ice’s debut convention last year in Edmonton and is a former member of its advisory board, told The Globe and Mail the group should work in specific ridings to help centrist candidates get elected.

The group, originally called Centre Ice Conservatives, formed during the race for the federal Conservative Party leadership last year, which Pierre Poilievre won with a strictly conservative agenda. Centre Ice’s website says its aim is to “provide a strong, bold voice for pragmatic, centrist Canadians.” It has held three policy conferences since last year, each attended by high-profile political players.

Earlier this month, Edmonton businessman Rick Peterson, who is a co-founder of the group and one of its two directors, issued a statement saying Centre Ice is considering becoming a full-fledged centrist political party. He said a decision on whether to proceed would be made by Sept. 20.

Ms. Clark said on Monday that a new party would draw support from other parties without necessarily achieving its aim of electing moderates.

“Instead, what they should be in the business of doing is strategically working to select moderate candidates for all of the parties or some of the parties,” she said, adding that the “relatively modest resources” of the organization mean this would be the best approach.

She noted that the tactic is routine among pro-life and environmental groups. “It’s a proven model,” she said.

Before becoming premier, Ms. Clark served as a cabinet minister in the BC Liberal government that was elected to power in 2001. She became party leader in 2011, and led the Liberals to a majority government in 2013. John Horgan’s B.C. New Democrats formed a minority government in 2017, and Ms. Clark resigned from politics shortly after.

As BC Liberal leader, Ms. Clark headed a party whose members included both federal Liberals and federal Conservatives, united at the provincial level as a free-enterprise coalition. The party recently changed its name to BC United.

During the federal Conservative leadership race last year, Ms. Clark endorsed Mr. Poilievre’s moderate rival, former Quebec premier Jean Charest.

She told The Globe that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen as having taken the Liberals too far to the left, while Mr. Poilievre uses polarizing language far too often.

Ms. Clark said most people she knows in both parties are uncomfortable with the status quo. “Most of them want something different from our national leaders than they are getting right now,” she said.

Her tenure on the Centre Ice Canadians advisory board lasted for about a year after the group’s founding. She said she left because of other professional commitments.

Under Elections Canada rules, a political party that wants to participate in a federal election or by-election has to submit an application that includes the names, addresses and signatures of 250 electors. Those electors have to sign declarations saying they are members of the party, and that they support its registration application.

Mr. Peterson said Monday that Centre Ice would consider Ms. Clark’s ideas. But he said feedback from supporters so far suggests they don’t want to participate in existing political parties.

He added that he would not be interested in leading any party formed out of Centre Ice. “I’m happy to help, but no, I am absolutely not a leadership candidate at all,” he said. Mr. Peterson sought the federal Conservative leadership in 2017.

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