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(Posted 8:30 a.m., Nov. 18)
Retired general eyes Liberal nomination in Ottawa-Orléans

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Long time Liberal David Bertschi (left) is facing a possible challenge from retired general Andrew Leslie for the local Liberal nomination in Ottawa-Orleans. File photo

When Orléans lawyer David Bertsch threw his name into the Liberal leadership race a year ago, he did so to add his voice to those seeking to reinvigorate the party while raising his profile both insiode and outside Liberal ranks.

He also did so with the clear intention of running for the local Liberal nominaton in the next election in the hope of getting a second shot at Conservative incumbent Royal Galipeau.

He no doubt expected to face a contested nomination, but he likely didn't expect the nomination would be contested by the likes of retired general Andrew Leslie, who according to media reports, intends to run in the National Capital region in the next election. The only question is where?

Among the area ridings currently held by Conservatives are Ottawa-Orleans, Ottawa West-Nepean, which is held by John Baird, and Nepean-Carleton, which is held by Pierre Poilievre.

Of the three, Ottawa-Orléans makes the most sense, especially if Galipeau decides not to run in 2015. The other possibility is in the west end, where a new riding is being created from parts of Ottawa West-Nepean and Nepean-Carleton. The new riding will be centred in Barrhaven but will extend north past Hunt Club Road.

“I’m trying to figure out the best fit,” Leslie said in a recent interview with the Ottawa Citizen. “Ottawa-Orléans is certainly the most attractive that I’ve seen.”

Before leaving the military in 2011, Leslie served as chief of land staff and then chief of transformation for the Canadian Armed Forces. He also oversaw Canadian troops in Bosnia and Afghanistan. In September of last year he joined Justin Trudeau's leadership team as an adviser on military issues and has remained in that capacity ever since.

He is the grandson of Liberal politician Brooke Claxton, who was federal minister of health and of defence in the 1940s and ’50s. He also resides in Rockcliffe, which is not a part of Ottawa-Orléans.

Nonplussed by the potential challenge, Bertschi says he welcomes Leslie's participation in an open nomination contest.

“I’ve never met Andy, I’ve never seen him at any events in Ottawa-Orléans, but I look forward to it and to working with him for the good of the party,” says Bertschi.

The long time Liberal Party activist has managed to maintain a relativelty high profile in the riding since losing to Galipeau in 2011 in what was a difficult election for Liberals across the country. Bertschi received 38 per cent of the vote compared to 44 per cent for Galipeau.

In a message sent out to local Liberal Party supporters on the weekend, Bertschi pointed out that he's worked along side other committed Liberals over the past four years in not only retiring the riding association's debt, but building a healthy pre-election surplus.

"It is my intention given the success I achieved in the last election to run again for the nomination in my home riding of Ottawa-Orléans," says Bertschi. "I have supported the riding economically by owning a business in the riding and participating in the local Chamber and other local organizations. I care deeply about the issues that affect our riding, our region and our country. Ottawa-Orléans deserves local committed representation. Game on."

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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