Grit, gumption, brains galore and she wants to go to Ottawa to represent Burlington.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 22, 2011 – There is a grittiness you don’t expect from someone her age.

She is attractive, poised, sharp, with the look of the Greek singer Nana Mouskourii to her.

A keener; did her doctorate WHILE she was doing her law degree.

She is part of the demographic that want to do something to make a difference. She isn’t about making a lot of money, greed doesn’t drive her, but she would like to earn enough to pay down the very significant student debt she carries.

Alyssa Brierley – seeks the federal Liberal nomination.

Alyssa Brierley – a woman seeking the federal liberal nomination for Burlington – wait a minute, wasn’t she going after the provincial nomination – and yes she was. But she got a call from some people with the federal Liberal party in Ottawa asking if she was interested in the seat in Burlington. She certainly was – “this is something I have wanted to do for a long time.” The step into federal politics is so new to her that she has yet to have her photograph taken with the Leader of the Opposition, Michael Ignatieff.

A native of Dundas, Ontario, Alyssa spent a number of years in Burlington and moved to Toronto to do her graduate and post graduate degree work and is now back in Burlington selling Liberal Party memberships. When asked how many she has sold she gets a little evasive and says she’s not exactly sure – but when asked how many she needs – she snaps right back with “one more than the other guy” And that is when you see the steel in Alyssa Brierley’s backbone.

She did gymnastics at the Burlington Gymnastics Club and worked at a store in the Mapleview Mall and is the only child of a Mother and a Grandmother who were also only children. “You don’t have siblings to be friends with when you grow up, so you have to work that much harder than most to make friends” she will tell you. She is in the process of making a lot of friends who she hopes will support her in first, winning the nomination, then winning the election that many people feel could be called before the end of the month.

This young woman is certainly an academic but she is also a street smart lady with an ability to focus on what she is setting out to do and then getting it done. She stresses the point that she is not a politician – which doesn’t make a lot of sense because she has very good people skills and what appears to be an impressive energy level. I think it is the pejorative part of the word politician that she doesn’t like. She has been involved in Liberal Party stuff in Burlington since 2006.

Alyssa Brierley works in Toronto as a policy analyst for an Ontario government, arms length, educational agency. This is a woman who applies intellect and energy to everything she does and makes it fun with a sense of humour that is just beneath the surface but doesn’t take long to work its way into conversation. And of course she will return to Burlington and make her home here when she is elected.

Single in a long term relationship (more than 10 years) with a guy who is her “best friend”, Alyssa is part of that generation that was hugely impressed by the way Pierre Trudeau put Canada on the would map. She has that sense that politicians can make a difference and she wants to go to Ottawa to do just that.

The Liberal Party in Burlington has sent a woman to Ottawa in the past. Paddy Torsney represented the riding for 12 years and Alyssa feels that she can continue that tradition. She wants to restore the faith she believes people should have in politicians and will tell you she “has wanted to do this for a long time”.

Alyssa will tell you what every politician who wants to get elected will tell you – they want to help people. This young woman however brings an impressive set of skills to the seat she wants to hold. A degree in political science from Waterloo, a Masters degree from York and then she did her law degree at Osgood Law School while doing her Doctorate in political science at York University.

For her the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a very significant document and she feels that she can make a contribution in international law as well as doing something to improve on the very poor way we have served our aboriginal community.

Has she got a shot at winning the election which threatens to be called perhaps as soon as late this week? Another federal Liberal in Burlington? This woman works very hard and has the capacity to make a significant difference. But Mike Wallace, the sitting member, has years of local political experience and he does not want to lose the seat.

The election we may go into could see trust and integrity or the budget as the core issues – neither of which Wallace can influence. There are no coat tails for him to ride – Stephen Harper is not likely to create a land slide, and if there is a coat tail for Brierley to ride on – it might not be good enough to take her the distance. But she will put up one heck of a fight.


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