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Liberal hopeful chases path to prime minister’s office

David Bertschi spent a few hours in downtown Duncan Wednesday, talking to people on the street about nationale issues. - Andrew Leong
David Bertschi spent a few hours in downtown Duncan Wednesday, talking to people on the street about nationale issues.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Liberal leader-hopeful David Bertschi was blunt when asked about his chances of resurrecting and helming his battered national party in the next three years.

"My chances are excellent," he told the News Leader Pictorial Wednesday, headed to meet Duncanites downtown.

"I based that on a broad-based platform, 28 years of experience of a growing businesses and making them succeed, and being a trial lawyer."

Bertschi, 53, first ran in the 2011 election as the Liberal candidate in Ottawa-Orléans.

He lost to his Conservative opponent by just a few percentage points, scoring the fifth-highest amount of Liberal votes in the country.

Now he's pitching a six-point plan, including party rejuvenation under Liberal 2.0 policies of fresh thinking.

His other five planks span boosting economic productivity and innovation, stoking social justice, overhauling foreign and domestic affairs, and rebuilding overall good governance.

"I'm very concerned about what's going on across the country in our domestic policy, and foreign affairs, and want smart government and intelligent policies."

He also welcomed citizen ideas and tough debates.

"I'll be travelling across the county on the ground. I don't fly in and fly out; I'm mainstreeting and listening to Canadians.

His main concern was saving the struggling economy.

"That's a broad-based issue about under-employed people, lack of available jobs, fiscal mismanagement, and failure of the Canadian government to protect our industries.

"I have concerns about how the (Tories) is engaging all levels of government and First Nations, mental health, homelessness, and addictions."

But Bertschi nixed notions of a coalition with the NDP and Greens to fight Harper's Conservatives.

"I'm confident — based on my running for leader, rebuilding the party and coming out with clear, concise policies — that the Liberal party will form the next government."

And he, not popular Justin Trudeau, will lead that party.

"Justin's a fine young man and brings a lot of attention to the race. The next leader should come with experience in life, and policies that address the middle class."

Addressing lingering public mistrust from the Liberal's late-'90s sponsorship scandal has basically occurred, Bertschi signalled.

"People have been brought to justice, charged and convicted," he said, noting most voters accept some Liberal mistakes happened.

"Now it's time to move on and address the concerns of Canadians," said the human-rights lawyer.

"I believe in transparency and accountability, and rebuilding the Liberal Party on those pillars."

Harper's pillars of failure include not meeting with and listening to concerns of average folks, business leaders, and Native elders, Bertschi explained.

"He hasn't responded in a constructive way to get the country on a balanced, even keel on a competitive basis with our international trading partners."

Does Bertschi support the proposed Enbridge pipeline? "Environmental safety regulations have to be strictly applied. We have to have a balance. The environment has to be considered in every major government decision, and this (Tory) government has not been doing that."

Will Ideal No More solve First Nations' demands?

"It's not a homogenous group. We have to meet with, listen to the concerns and address them in a very consultative, proactive basis.

"We also have to address funding issues, as we would other levels of government."

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