Ian Bursey sets sights on Ottawa
Bay Roberts native running for council seat
Bay Roberts native Ian Bursey hears the same question every time he puts down a new campaign sign in the Ottawa ward of Barrhaven.
Voters note the blue background and question whether Bursey has ties to the Conservative party.
“I pull out my phone and show them the Ascension Collegiate Astros,” he said.
The Bay Roberts high school was his school until he moved to Ontario in 1990.
A blue background with gold trim indicates Bursey is running for councillor in Ward 3 in Ottawa, Ont. He is challenging incumbent Jan Harder in the election on Oct. 27.
An automotive technician — he works in collision repair — Bursey has been hard on the campaign trail since nominations were called.
“People should be in touch with their council,” he said. “I’m a very outgoing person and I’m a Newfoundlander, so I’ve got the gift of gab.”
In his attempt at municipal politics, Bursey received advice from another Newfoundland politician who spent time in Ottawa — John Efford.
“He told me, ‘ get out there and knock on every door,’” said Bursey.
That’s what he has been doing, shaking hands and getting in touch with constituents.
And those colours on his signs; Bursey has something else to say about them.
“I also tell them these colours don’t run,” he said.
Keeping in touch
You can figure out a couple of things just from speaking with Bursey.
One, he traded in his Newfoundland accent for a mainland one and, two; he has not forgotten where he came from.
“I talk to my Bay Roberts friends all of the time,” said Bursey. “Social media is great for that.”
He is a frequent visitor to the town’s Facebook page and the son of Graham and Jean Bursey. His dad was an active member of the Royal Canadian Legion and his mother a member of the Salvation Army.
“I remember (Deputy Mayor) Walter Yetman from growing up in the Salvation Army,” said Bursey.
No political experience
Prior to entering the Ottawa municipal election race, Bursey had no political experience. There were no attempts to run for student council at Ascension or for Bay Roberts town council in his early years.
In fact, growing up, Bursey was the farthest thing from an aspiring politician. He had long hair and listened to heavy metal music.
“If you ask anyone I grew up with, they’d say I was the class clown,” he said. “I was the biggest nuisance.”
But, there were times he paid attention to what was going on around him. He cites former-mayor Wilbur Sparkes as an inspiration for what he is doing now.
“I saw how a town was supposed to be run,” said Bursey.
The suburb of Barrhaven is, in many ways, similar to Bursey’s hometown. Both are working class communities where neighbours look out for each other.
But, there is one thing that sep- arates them. There is a disconnect between the elected officials and the voters, according to Bursey.
“You need to earn people’s trust,” he said.
In Bay Roberts, people see their elected representatives every day, and Bursey believes that’s how a councillor should be.
“I guess you could say I’m bringing small town politics to the big city.”
Bay Roberts native Ian Bursey is running for councillor in the Ottawa municipal election