By DeLynda Pilon – Prince George Free Press
Published: January 25, 2013 9:00 AM
Updated: January 25, 2013 11:23 AM
Liberal leader hopeful David Bertschi met up with about a dozen members of the Young Liberals in Prince George Tuesday night, visiting the city following the opening debate in Vancouver among those vying for the party’s leadership.
He’s been touring the country by car, meeting with Canadians in their hometowns and cities, listening to the issues they feel are important as much as sharing the platforms he’s running on in the current race, and how he envisions the country being run should the Liberals win the next election.
The civil trial lawyer ran in 2011 as well, and though he lost, he says he knocked on about 30,000 doors during his campaign and was instrumental in getting more people out to vote.
“Essentially there are six key areas that are critically important to Canada,” Bertschi said.
They include economic performance, social justice, smart government/intelligent politics, Canada in the world, Canada at home, and Liberal party 2.0.
Bertschi called the current government to task for deciding to reduce MP’s pensions – in the future.
“If you believe in fiscal restraint, you have to act responsibly,” he said. “You have to lead by example.”
He said the pensions should be reduced, but sooner rather than later.
“If you are asking Canadians to tighten their belts, government has to tighten its belt.”
He pointed out bureaucracy has increased by 40 per cent in the last five years.
“The government beast grew 40 per cent in the last five years, but is saying we are the money managers,” he said.
The Liberal party, he said, is about balance, something you don’t find in the left or right parties, which is one reason he doesn’t believe in a merger.
“I don’t believe in a merger, not on my watch.”
That balance can be focused on a number of issues, including pipelines.
Bertschi said finding a way to get the oil to the market safely is important.
“We have to get the product out while we protect the environment. We’ve got to work together to solve the problem.”
He said that specifically the Northern Gateway pipeline project is not acceptable as it stands.
“We must bring back core values that are right. The problem, in my opinion, is a failure by the federal government.”
He said in an effort to facilitate time and money, the federal government chopped up programs that provided checks and balances.
“That’s where we have to have real regulations,” he said.
The Liberal party, he said, is about cooperation, sharing ideas and acting on principles, whether they are popular or not.
“We have to take principled stands,” Bertschi said.
One current issue, he said, is a lack of a democratic culture in a democracy headed by Harper.
“We have to ensure the people are making the decisions,” he said.
Bertschi said he’s been a Liberal for a long time, and he intends to continue working hard within the party to better it as well as the country as a whole, hopefully as the Liberal party leader.
“I’m in it to the end. It’s about being able and wanting to do the job.”