Volume 12 Week 5

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(Posted 11 a.m., Nov. 16)
Alleged letter throws local Liberal nomination race into question
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

David Bertschi's bid to get a secomd shot at Ottawa-Orleans incumbent Royal Galipeau is very much in the air following reecnt developments regarding his possible nomination. File photo

First Justin Trudeau ruled that any future MPs must vote pro-choice, which led to pro-life supporter Gar Knutsen's withdrawal from the local nomination race, now comes word that David Bertschi will likely be blocked from running over outstanding leadership debt, thus paving the way for Trudeau confidante Andrew Leslie to win the nomination uncontested.

According to a story published in today's Ottawa Citizen, the Liberal Party leadership sent a letter to Berschi last week informing him that his nomination, which was approved by the party's Green Light committee last May, has been revoked on the grounds that he has yet to pay off the debt he incurred while running for the Liberal Party leadership in 2013.

In the same story, Bertschi denies that his candidacy has been revoked by the Green Light committee but he admits that it has been called into question.

"My understanding is there are a number of negotiations ongoing at the moment and we’ll see what they do in the next week," Bertschi told the Citizen on Friday.

Ottawa-Orléans Liberal Riding Association president Lee Beauregard also received a letter from the Party calling Berschi's nomination status into question, but he also confirmed to the Citizen that discussions on the matter are still taking place.

“I’m leery to get into that right now but, yes, I did receive a letter from the party,” Beauregard told the Citizen. “There’s discussions going back and forth on it and I don’t know where those discussions are.”

Bertschi ran up a debt in excess of $150,000 during the leadership campaign.

Earlier this year, the Liberal Party issued a directive that no one could seek a nomination as long as they had outstanding debt from previous Liberal leadership contests. The position was later clarified to allow Liberal leadership candidates the opportunity to bring their outstanding debt to less than $100,000 with a plan to eliminate it entirely.

Before filing his nomination papers in the spring Bertschi had paid back more than $60,000. bringing his debt to under $92,000. He has since paid back more than $40,000 in accordance with a debt repayment plan accepted by the Green Light committee in May, however, close to $50,000 remains.

The letter sent to Bertschi and the ridng association also makes mention of an anti-defamation lawsuit he filed against the Arizona-based owners of a gossip website which published defamatory statements about him during the leadership race. Despite the fact that the company never filed a statement of defence, Bertschi withdrew his suit before filing his nomination papers.

He says the Green Light committee was fully aware of the lawsuit when it approved his nomination.

The local nomination race has been an issue for the Liberals for the past six months. Bertschi, who ran against Conservative incumbernt Royal Galipeau in 2011 and lost, had always made it clear that he planned to run again. News of Leslie's interest in the nomination first surfaced in February. He was green lighted in April.

Gar Knutsen, who was a former Cabinet minister under Jean Chretien, pulled out of the race while his nomination papers were still being reviewed. After Trudeau ruled that any future Liberal Party MPs must vote for pro-choice if the abortion issue ever came up for a vote in the House of Commons, Knutson said he could not meet the leader's demands.

That left Bertschi and Leslie as the only two candidates. It was thought that a nomination meeting would be held after the provincial election, but spring turned into summer with no word on a possible date. A date in September was then thought to be a possibility, but it too passed as the body politic turned its collective attention to the municipal election.

That was three weeks ago. Now it seems the local nomination race will be little more than a coronation. What is not known is the potential fallout should the Liberal Party stick to its decision to disqualify Bertschi.

The Orléans lawyer has been the face of the Liberal Party in Ottawa-Orléans for the past eight years. He has built up a network of grassroots supporters largely on his own and he has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the local Liberal war chest.

If he's rejected many of his supporters might decide to spend the next election on the sidelines which would hurt the Liberal chances against Galipeau who is seen as a populist and has won three mandates in a row.

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

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