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Liberal hopeful on the hustings

On pipeline: ‘The way it’s presented now, it’s not going ahead’
Liberal leadership hopeful Alex Burton ended his cross-Canada odyssey in Parksville Wednesday.

Alex Burton knows he doesn’t have the name recognition of a Justin Trudeau, but the federal Liberal leadership candidate hopes his  recently-completed cross-Canada RV tour will start to change that.

Burton, who works as a Crown prosecutor with the organized crime unit in British Columbia, finished his cross-Canada tour by mainstreeting in Parksville Wednesday.

“We’ve travelled across the country on this bus, stopping in small towns and smaller cities, places like Parksville to talk to folks,” Burton said in an exclusive interview with The NEWS. “When you actually stop and listen to what people have to say in small businesses and coffee shops, amazing things start to happen. They share their ideas with you and some of those ideas leave you scratching your head and saying, ‘why can’t we try that?’”

Burton, who is not a Member of Parliament, knows he has a tough slog to  beat out better-known Liberals such as Justin Trudeau, but he said he’s confident he will be at very least competitive, once people get to know what he’s all about. He said he was convinced to run, despite the odds, because of his set of deep-seated values.

“I was imparted a set of values that said if you are lucky enough to be blessed, like I have been, if you are given opportunities, like I have been, you have a responsibility to give back,” he said. “I looked around for a voice that said it would do things differently in the party and who would advocate for the things I believe we need to be advocating for and, with respect to the other candidates, I didn’t see that new voice.”

He said his tour across the country makes him different from the other candidates.

“I don’t want to be a candidate who says I crossed the country and what I meant was I got on a plane at one end and flew over it,” he said. “You have to connect to folks and listen to them.”

As he and his team made their way west, he said he heard more about what Canadians have in common than sets them apart.

“Number one was a focus on making sure we have a vibrant, sustainable economy, with jobs for young people and for people who are in the middle of their life who have lost their job,” he said. “What’s their opportunity for getting back into the workplace?”

While he said issues such as healthcare, climate change, relations with First Nations and education also figured prominently, it was the economy that appeared uppermost in people’s minds.

“Everything flows from that,” he said. “If we don’t have opportunities for people, how do we pay for all the other things we would like to do as a government?”

As far as British Columbia issues are concerned, Burton said his view of the Northern Gateway pipeline — at least in its current form — is that it’s a non-starter.

“Communities along the route were not consulted, First nations communities were not brought into the process and there’s the unfortunate track record of Enbridge itself,” he said. “The way it’s presented now, it’s not going ahead. However, we need to change the conversation. What is it we want? Do we want no pipelines at all?


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