Best/good frequent flyer program if mostly flying with Air Canada?

I will be shortly relocating to Canada for three years and I am trying to discover which frequent flyer program is best.

I have been a Qantas Frequent Flyer member for a while now and have got a good amount of points on this program. Unfortunately, unless I want to take an extreme amount of connections between Australia and Canada, there is not much benefit of earning points on my Qantas Frequent Flyer account.

While we are away, we will be traveling to the United States, Europe and within Canada. We will also travel back to Australia once a year plus our initial flight over there which is through Air Canada. The best option is likely flying with a Star Alliance member - Air Canada, United or Lufthansa. Whilst I have a Velocity account with some points it seems that getting Velocity Points on an Air Canada flight doesn’t exist - only certain code share flights as part of recent agreement between the airlines.

I am thinking my options are :
Aero Plan (but this will cease in 2020 with Air Canada having their own program) so is not the best. The only benefit is getting points on other purchases in Canada.

Air New Zealand Air Points

United Airlines Mileage Plus

I would ideally like to have the opportunity to get points for flight upgrades, flight rewards and access to lounges (even if at a fee initially).

Does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations?

I have had a similar concern, but with velocity points, see my post below. Not sure it will help with Qantas but worth a shot.

I have a similar question as I’m a Qantas Platinum flyer, but just booked a great Biz fare on AC from MEL-ORD for Christmas.  The options you can consider are:

  1. Cross your fingers that Velocity and Air Canada will finally deliver on the partnership they announced 15-Dec-2016, and you can credit to Velocity.
  2. Credit to Singapore - if you fly enough, you'll get KrisFlyer Gold -> Star Alliance Gold, which will give you lounge access for Air Canada / Singapore / Other *A / AND Virgin Australia.  Note the earn rates aren't that great on Singapore, IMHO. Special note - VA-coded flights do not earn you elite miles / status credits on SQ.
  3. AeroPlan or United, as you pointed out - I should note that there's a negative that if you earn United MileagePlus Premier Gold -> *A Gold, you own't have access to United's lounges when flying on a US-only itinerary, but a trans-border itinerary should give you access.
I would personally avoid AirPoints - historically it's quite difficult to meaningfully earn/redeem if you're not primarily flying AirNZ.