VANCOUVER – Vancouver Crown attorney Alex Burton has jumped into the federal Liberal leadership race, but one expert says he'll have his work cut out for him if he wants to compete with Justin Trudeau.
Burton believes Liberals need a leader capable of addressing Canadians’ concerns over jobs and the economy.
“I realized if the Liberal Party was going to move in a direction I believed in, I had to step up and take responsibility and be that voice,” the 44-year-old bilingual father of two said Monday.
Burton is not an MP nor does he have the name or political pedigree of Trudeau, a Quebec MP and son of late former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
“Mr. Trudeau brings attention to the race and that’s great,” Burton said. “We are focused on our plan, our message and my vision of Canada.”'
Norman Ruff, a retired University of Victoria political science professor, said the odds are stacked against Burton.
“It is more about Burton raising his profile within the party and the media than even a remote chance at the leadership,” Ruff said.
Burton's website says he was born in Toronto and worked on his first political campaign age 10. He is Vancouver Kingsway Liberal riding association president.
His website notes he was born in Toronto, worked on his first political campaign at age 10, and lived in the Netherlands for a year after high school. He also worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan in the narcotics, money laundering and tax crimes unit.
He is currently travelling across the country building grassroots support.
“We are going to the places in between the big cities, connecting with Canadians,” he said. “That is something the Liberal Party needs to do.”
Electing a leader from Vancouver would give the Liberals a chance to rebuild support in Western Canada. Currently, only four of the 35 Liberal MPs are from the West.
“We can't keep going into every election with one hand tied behind our back,”' Burton said.