12:30 p.m., March 16)
Liberal candidate explores possible run for party leadership
By Fred Sherwin
2011 federal Liberal candidate for Ottawa-Orléans has
emerged as a possible early contender for the partys
leadership, assembling a team of organizers and plotting
a bus tour.
Bertschi, an Ottawa-based lawyer, stops short of saying
hes going for the top job. Right now, its
just something hes exploring at the urging of Liberals
who have approached him from the west to the east.
do think that thats what renewal is all about
its new ideas, new people, strong new leadership,
said Bertschi. But I have not made a decision to
run. I live in the real-world. Im not a career politician.
Im just not satisfied with the level of discourse
and political debate.
Bertschi plays down his intentions, hes building
a very real political machine. He has assembled 28 key
organizers from B.C. to Price Edward Island. He has begun
to raise money, too more than $50,000 so far. There
have already been townhalls on Liberal renewal, and another
one is planned for April on the economy. There is even
talk of a bus tour to engage more Canadians.
has a viewpoint, he said. Theres no
monopoly on good ideas in Canadian politics.
the partys recent electoral misfortunes and accusations
that its glory days are over, Bertschi isnt alone
in eyeing the top job. With the leadership election now
about a year away, more candidates are expected to start
coming out of the woodwork. The names being touted include
Gerard Kennedy, Martha Hall-Findlay, and Marc Garneau.
Bob Rae has not ruled out a run either.
is a Quebec native, and has been a party member for more
than 25 years, working behind the scenes for then-leadership
candidates John Turner and Jean Chrétien.
is married with six children, and chose not to run himself
until the 2011 election for two reasons: he wanted to
wait until the kids were older, and he wanted to establish
his private sector experience. He is a founding partner
at Bertschi Orth Smith LLP in Orléans.
youre going to contribute to the fibre of our politics
you have to understand the real world.
lost Ottawa-Orléans to incumbent Conservative Royal Galipeau
by about 4,000 votes, but he still calls it the best experience
of his life. During the campaign he engaged the public
on the relevant policy issues, and maintain a high standard
of political discourse, without making false promises.
felt we had to raise the bar and by raising the
bar, that means speaking respectfully, but convincingly
to people, about a position. Not getting down into the
gutter and doing things that are unethical or illegal.
Its about respecting your constituency with honour,"
riding was one of a few dozen across the country targeted
by robocalls during the last campaign. It was in mid-April
that voters began contacting Bertschis office, complaining
about harassing calls they had received from people who
identified themselves as Liberals. There were also complaints
of bogus calls from Elections Canada re-directing voters
to incorrect polling stations. In all, Bertschi heard
35 complaints, and went to Elections Canada.
registered a complaint, we followed up with a complaint.
We havent heard back from Elections Canada, but
as you can appreciate, Elections Canada is quite busy
with I guess over 31,000 complaints to date.
emerging picture of widespread wrongdoing troubles him.
you take away one vote from one Canadian, youre
really stealing from everyone, and its effecting
the fibre of our democracy. And its really important
that people be held to account for that type of behaviour.
said his goal in politics is to be someone who looks to
the future. The issues that are important to him include
ministerial responsibility, respect for democracy, and
finding new and innovative ways to deliver health care.
He describes himself as a capitalist with a heart.
seems that the current breed of politician on Parliament
Hill, and specifically in the government, is more concerned
about the next election than whats right for the
next generation, he said. Its not about
the next election. We have to solve some problems for
the next generation.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
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