As far as party affiliations go, it was enemy territory as a Liberal Party of Canada leadership hopeful toured Alberta to outline his plans for the party itself as well as for Canadian politics.
David Bertschi, a 53-year-old Ottawa-based lawyer, passed through Whitecourt during a cross-country tour spent meeting with Canadians.
“I’m running because the leadership needs substance, and it’s time to adopt a new approach to how the Liberal party is run,” said the candidate. “There’s been a number of times the liberal party’s failed to listen to the people. They haven’t taken their wishes and concerns into consideration.”
Bertschi has been involved in politics and campaigns from an early age, from envelope stuffing and knocking on doors to volunteering for national campaigns.
Bertschi believes it’s his on-the-ground experience as well as his substance, boldness and vision that gives him an edge in this race against eight other candidates all vying to become the next leader on April 14.
“The Liberal leadership has to put the party and Canadians first, not themselves first. It’s not about me or any of the people [running], it’s about how we can best represent all Canadians, regardless of who they vote for.”
Citing his roots in a small town, being born in the small town of Sainte-Adèle and raised in Verdun, Que. by a single mother, Bertschi said he learned not only to talk with people, but to listen to them as well — a quality he said has been lacking in politics.
“The Liberals have been more top down. This current government’s perfected the art of centralization and telling people what to do. Canadians are looking for a bold, experienced, substantive vision and that’s what I bring to this leadership race.”
Bertschi plans to show that through focusing on several different key points.
“I have six plans that I feel are critically important to bringing us back to what I’ll describe as a balanced government,” he said.
That balance is important in his first point, the economy.
“It’s about innovation, it’s about productivity and added value, not just refining it. Not just extracting our natural resources, but refining it and selling it at an added value, and that works in the forest industry, obviously,” he said.
“It’s also about working and listening to the municipalities and the provinces, because what I’m hearing from the mayors of small towns, like I do from the large cities, is infrastructure’s a problem.
He said municipalities need help, but that partnership between private industry, the municipalities, the provinces and the federal government.
“Most of the challenges we’re facing in Canada at the moment are because there’s been no engagement of those levels of government.”
Bertschi travelled across the country for more than six months in 2012 in anticipation of his candidacy and started another driving tour after officially starting his campaign a few weeks ago.
“I started out west because the rebirth or the regrowth potential for the Liberal party is greatest in western Canada,” he said.
He said his focus is on meeting with people from all different walks of life to discuss and listen to their problems and concerns.
“That’s how I’m addressing this. I’m not flying in and flying out, I’m driving across the country from coast to coast. That’s where I believe the real battle in the 308 riding is taking place or will take place, because each riding is weighted equally,” he said.
“I believe firmly in accountable government, I believe you elect someone at the federal level and they actually have a say in government, they’re not told what to do by the PMO as it is now.”