Burton makes his case for Liberal leader
Alex Burton, a federal Liberal leadership candidate, speaks to Carolyn Campbell, co-owner of Boudicca Fine Used Books, during a visit to Orillia Thursday. Burton, who is not an elected politician, is on a cross-Canada tour.
The back of Alex Burton’s campaign bus dubs the unknown would-be leader as Canada’s “other federal Liberal candidate.”
“We’re having a little fun with that,” he told The Packet & Times during his stop in downtown Orillia Thursday.
Facing well-known hopefuls like Justin Trudeau and Martha Hall Findlay, Burton, who is not an elected politician, is taking a different approach to the race.
“I have a strategy,” he said. “We’re not going to be distracted by other candidates in the race.”
Burton, a B.C. Crown prosecutor in the organized crime unit, is on a cross-Canada tour that left Vancouver in early October.
“Part of that strategy is doing what we’re doing now, which is going out and actually meeting folks where they live and listening to them,” Burton said.
“There’s clearly a need to do politics differently,” Burton said, noting four in 10 Canadians didn’t vote in the last federal election.
In Orillia, Burton stopped at the Mariposa Folk Foundation office on Peter Street and Tosha’s Salon Salon and Boudicca Books on Mississaga Street.
Salon owner Tosha Troian spoke to Burton about how difficult it is to be an entrepreneur.
“It’s a risk, but if it goes, it’s worth it,” she said. “Anybody who supports us, I’m totally up for that and I support them.”
Burton told Troian he’s looking at payroll tax holidays.
“Say you had a slow month and you’re a bit tight and just need that little break to get you over...” Burton said about how payroll taxes could be delayed.
“If the government does that and keeps more businesses afloat... it’s better for everybody all around,” he said.
Carolyn Campbell, co-owner of Boudicca Fine Used Books, spoke to Burton about child-care.
“I have to rely on my parents to watch my children before and after school,” said Campbell, a single mom. “...I can’t afford (early childhood education), frankly.”
Burton has been speaking to Canadians on the streets, to business owners and those working for community organizations, like the folk foundation.
“We need to get out of the big urban centres and come and listen to what folks in places like Orillia actually have to say,” he said.
“If we’re going to regrow the Liberal party, if we’re going to re-establish our credibility with Canadians — which is something I believe we need to do — we’ve got to get out of our own world and talk to people who are not Liberals as well.”
Through southern Ontario, Burton heard jobs and the economy were the No. 1 concern.
“We need a government that focuses on the long-term to create that sustainable economy for our future for our kids,” he said. “It means investing in people, in real job training, so we’re ready for the complex manufacturing jobs of the future. There is a future in places like Orillia.”
Burton said he’s the one to bring the Liberals back from third-party status because he’s not from “the Ottawa bubble.”
“I work in the organized crime unit in British Columbia and it gives me a different perspective,” he said. “I work with people who’ve fallen between the cracks... with the less advantaged in our society, but I also see the best of our society, people who step up and take responsibility in our court system.”
Canada doesn’t need to be tough on crime, but “smart on crime.”
“Putting petty criminals in jail for long periods of time just turns them into bitter criminals,” Burton said. “If somebody is acting out in our community and there’s violence involved, that’s where I draw the line and they need to be separated from our community to make us safe.”