David Orchard
The 1998 PC Leadership Race
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David Orchard's speech to the Progressive Conservative leadership contest speech night, Toronto, October 23, 1998

Thank you, Madame Chairman. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Bon soir, mesdames et messieurs.

Je suis un fermier de la Saskatchewan et je suis candidat à la direction du parti conservateur parce que j'ai une vision pour notre pays. Mon Canada à moi c'est un Canada indépendant et souvereign. La même vision que celle de Georges Étienne Cartier, un des fondateurs du parti conservateur.

A country which has no memory can have no future. For that reason I want to look for a moment at the background of our party and then move into my platform. John A. Macdonald and Georges-Etienne Cartier created the Conservative Party. They negotiated the Confederation of four colonies and then, in the face of tremendous opposition, expanded it continent wide.

The Liberals of the day opposed Confederation. The Liberal Party then opposed British Columbia's entry into Canada. The railway promised to B.C. was too expensive. It was, they said, "an example of the criminal absurdity of nationalism."

Cartier and Macdonald went ahead and, with the help of Metis leader Louis Riel in Manitoba and Amor de Cosmos in B.C., they defeated U.S. attempts to annex the west and created the second largest nation on earth.

The railway across this great land would be all-Canadian, they promised. The Liberals objected. If there had to be a railroad, Canada should build an easier, cheaper line south of the Great Lakes. And they wanted to ask the Americans to help build it.

Never, replied Cartier, and four million Canadians built one of the world's largest railroad systems linking the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The Liberals wanted more powers for the provinces -- provincial rights, they called them. No, said Macdonald. We must have a strong central government in order for a far-flung nation like ours to survive.

Then in the 1880s the Liberals called for free trade with the U.S. That, Macdonald replied, was "sheer insanity" for Canada which would have "as its inevitable result, annexation to the United States." The lion and the lamb may lie down together, he said, but the lamb would be inside the lion. He called free trade "treason" and he warned that if Canada and the United States did not have an economic border, they soon would not have a political one either.

In 1911 the Liberals tried again. They negotiated a free trade agreement with Washington. The Conservative Party under Robert Borden fought back. The Liberals were talking about a greater Canada, Borden said, but it was a greater United States they had achieved. Once again Canadians voted with the Conservatives against Canada-U.S. free trade.

Arthur Meighen, Borden's successor as Conservative leader, the man who created CN Rail, spoke out repeatedly against economic integration with the U.S. No country in the world needs to look after itself more than Canada, he said, living as we do next to the United States.

In the 1930s R.B. Bennett's Conservatives created the Bank of Canada, the Canadian Wheat Board and founded the CBC. "Listen all of you who have been taught to applaud free trade," Bennett said. "Tell me, when did free trade fight for you?"

John Diefenbaker warned repeatedly of what he called "the baneful effects of foreign ownership."

These are the leaders who built this party and whose legacy those of us in this race seek to carry on.

In my view, the party lost its way in the 1980s and ended up adopting the Liberals long-time policy of economic union with the U.S.

Canada is a trading nation. It always has been and always will be. David Orchard is not opposed to trade and never has been. No one has to tell a Saskatchewan grain farmer about the importance of trade and trade around the world. We export most of the wheat we grow.

But the FTA and NAFTA are not free trade. In many respects, they are not even about trade. Under NAFTA, for example, U.S. corporations received the right to sue Canada for any law, regulation or policy which they feel causes them loss or damage. A number of these NAFTA lawsuits have been launched.

In 1997 Canada banned the importation and transportation of the gasoline additive MMT, made by the Ethyl Corporation of Virginia. California had banned MMT in 1977. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had ruled it a hazard to human health. Europe doesn't use it. Ethyl responded by suing the Canadian government for $350 million. The Liberal government vowed it would defend our sovereign right to pass our own laws in Canada. Then in July of this year, our government capitulated completely, reversed its ban on MMT, issued Ethyl an abject letter of apology and then paid Ethyl $20 million in compensation for bothering them.

My question is this: Who governs Canada? Is it the Parliament that we elect in Ottawa, or is it foreign corporations based in Virginia? Under NAFTA, U.S. corporations have been given the right to reverse laws passed by Canada's Parliament and to receive Canadian compensation for doing so.

This is not free trade. This is the loss of our sovereignty as a nation, and a travesty of democracy.

In the health care field, the FTA gave private American health corporations the right to come to Canada -- it's called "the right of establishment" -- and once here to be treated as if they were Canadian -it's called "national treatment."

And we are seeing the results as medicare is undermined across the nation and we drift towards a U.S. model private health industry.

In energy, we agreed to never charge American corporations more for any energy good than Canadians and even if we face a shortage of any form of energy, the U.S. receives the right to take the same proportion it has been taking even if Canada itself goes short. No other trade agreement anywhere in the world contains such a provision. Mexico refused to sign the energy clause in NAFTA that Canada signed.

In the FTA we changed twelve of our banking laws to allow U.S. banks to take over all of Canada's financial institutions, including our big five banks. In fact, we amended the Bank Act to define U.S. citizens and investors as Canadian citizens.

What do these clauses have to do with free trade?

Now, of course, we are seeing the chickens coming home to roost -- our banks say they must merge in order to prevent being taken over. Merge at a cost of tens of thousands of Canadian jobs and towns across Canada that will find themselves without banks.

The answer is not to allow our banks to merge. Instead we should remove ourselves from NAFTA and the FTA, which we can do without penalty by simply giving six months' notice. Chaos will not ensue. We will then simply return to trading with the U.S. under GATT and WTO rules, as we did before the FTA. Both Canada and the U.S. are members of GATT, have been since the 1940s and under GATT we did much better in terms of our trade disputes with the U.S. than we have under the FTA and NAFTA. In fact, our access to the U.S. market was more secure before the FTA, as our softwood lumber producers, our grain producers and others can testify.

Opponents of the Canada-U.S. FTA are sometimes called isolationists. Nothing could be further from the truth. Under NAFTA and the FTA, a wall is being built around North America and Canada is being locked inside. Canada is trading almost exclusively with the U.S. - not with the rest of the world. The Liberals brag about our trade figures. But almost 70% of Canada's trade is intra-corporate trade -- carried on inside U.S. corporations. All our trade lines are turning north and south while our east-west trade across Canada has fallen dramatically. Lucien Bouchard said in the U.S. recently that Quebec now trades more with the U.S. than with Canada. So why does it need Canada? he asked.

There was no need for the 1988 Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. For 50 years Canada's standard of living had been steadily rising. We were one of the most open nations in the world. Since the FTA our standard of living has fallen sharply and the gap between haves and have-nots has widened dramatically.

When the FTA was passed, our unemployment rate was equal to or lower than that in the U.S. and had been for years. Today our unemployment rate is double the official U.S. rate. People are begging and sleeping in the streets of Canada in a way not seen since the Great Depression. 6,000 Canadian companies have been taken over, mostly by U.S. companies, and we are seeing the Americanization of all aspects of Canadian society. Even CN Rail, our great national railway, has been sold by the Liberals and is now 70% U.S.-owned. CN's Canadian workforce is now being slashed to increase the bottom line for U.S. shareholders.

Prominent voices now call openly for Canada to give up our currency and our central bank and adopt the U.S. dollar as the common currency for the North American free trade zone. This is why I oppose the FTA, NAFTA and, of course, the latest Liberal attempt to expand them both into something called the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) which carries with it a 20-year lock-in period and has aroused opposition around the world.

It is time to move beyond an era where the men who founded this party and our nation, and warned us repeatedly of the dangers of free trade with the U.S., are dismissed as being voices from the past.

There are certain truths which are timeless. We live next door to the most powerful nation in the world, and if we continue along the path the Liberals are taking us, we are simply going to be swallowed up -- just as Macdonald and Borden predicted.

But, we are told, we are in the age of globalization, it's inevitable and we had better get used to it. In fact, the globalization model is in meltdown around the world and some of the world's most successful economies are those which have resisted the mad rush to embrace it.

Switzerland has refused to join the European Union- its unemployment rate is around 4%. Norway voted 4 years ago to stay out of the E.U. Today Norway has one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, no debt, no deficit, no downsizing, an unemployment rate of 2.1% and the richest social programs in the world. Norway has refused to give control of its oil industry to foreign companies and uses its revenues to give its people one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Canada has its own experience. During the Second World War, we doubled the size of our economy in just 6 years, built the world's third largest merchant navy and dropped our unemployment rate from 10% to 1%, all without borrowing a cent abroad. We did it by using the Bank of Canada- an institution created by this party and which still exists.

We must move away from exporting our raw resources out of Canada and trying to buy back the finished products. All that does is export jobs and impoverish our future. We should and could build industries here using our own raw materials. Why do we not have a Canadian car? A fully developed Canadian aerospace industry? A Canadian merchant fleet? We are a trading nation with the longest coastline in the world. 50 years ago we stood fourth among the ship-owning nations of the world, yet today we cannot apparently even build the ships to take our goods to market. As a farmer, I cannot buy a major piece of farm machinery anymore that is made in Canada.

We are told that Canada is too small. Too small. Doesn't Sweden produce its own automobile - two of them- and export them around the world? Doesn't Korea? Italy? Japan? Are these not all far smaller nations than Canada?

We are the 2nd largest nation on the face of the earth. In population, we have more people than Britain when it ruled its global empire. So there is no reason we cannot govern ourselves.

I will return this party to the rock-solid foundations laid by its great founders -- a domestically-controlled economy with employment, pride and dignity for all.

Public interest was at the very bosom of this party when it created the institutions that are being dismantled by the Liberals today. The Conservative party has historically stood for a successful mixed economy. I don't believe being a Conservative means cutting, slashing and selling off everything built by the blood, sweat and tears of generations of Canadians. I am in the Progressive Conservative party to conserve that which is best about our nation, not sell it to the highest bidder.

In the field of conservation, historically also it has often been the Conservative Party that has taken the lead. I am an organic farmer -- we moved our farm away from chemical use in the mid-1970s -- and I have stood unequivocally for the protection of our environment all my adult life.

On the question of national unity and the Constitution, I also stand in the historical Conservative party tradition. I opposed both Meech Lake and the Charlottetown Accord because I saw them mortally weakening the power of the central government. The national government is the only institution we have that speaks for all Canadians, and if we systematically dismantle its powers, as the Reform party would have us do and as the Liberals are doing quietly, then we are going to end up with ten balkanized fiefdoms and no effective national government. In a country as far-flung and decentralized as Canada is already, that, in my view, would be fatal. My position is leave the Constitution alone.

Throughout this campaign I have talked about the need to reform the way we finance our political life in Canada. Across the country there is a cynicism, anger and despair about politics. That cynicism is a direct result of problems in our political system, problems which I believe could be solved in large measure by two fairly simple changes.

Right now our political parties are allowed, even obligated, to seek donations from private corporations. Foreign corporations can funnel funds directly to Canadian political parties through their subsidiaries. This makes a sham of democracy and our sovereignty. Citizens cannot and will not trust parties financed by corporations. They know that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

The province of Quebec has set an example in dealing with this problem by prohibiting political donations from corporations or unions and that model should be studied and adopted federally.

The second measure I propose to rejuvenate our democracy is to move away from our current British, first-past-the-post system of electing members of Parliament which is badly out of date. Our current system creates false majorities and exacerbates regionalism in the country. For example, in 1993 the Bloc Quebecois received 13% of the vote and ended up as the official opposition, while this party, which received more votes, was reduced to two seats. In 1988, and again in 1993, the majority of Canadians voted for parties opposed to the Free Trade Agreement, yet saw their expressed will overridden.

Most democracies in the world are using proportional representation -- only three of the178 countries in the U.N. still use our system. Under proportional representation, if a party received 13% of the vote, they would receive roughly 13% of the seats in the House -- a much fairer and more direct representation which would put an end to what some have called our 5-year dictatorships.

These two changes would go a long way to renewing faith in politics across this country.

This party, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, has spearheaded the move to greater democracy by, for the first time, electing its leader by a direct vote of all its members. It is well positioned to lead the move to reform our national electoral process.

To sum up, I am in this leadership race for four main reasons:

  1. to put control of Canada's economy, and therefore our destiny, back into Canadian hands;
  2. to stop the destruction of our environment;
  3. to put an end to the repeated and ongoing attempts to weaken one of the finest and longest lasting Constitutions in the world; and
  4. to put control of our Parliamentary process and our democracy in the hands of our own citizens.

Under my leadership, there will be no need to talk of amalgamating with a spent force called Reform. Our task is not to unite the right. Our task is to unite all Canadians who long for clean politics and dream of a true north, strong and free.

Those millions of Canadians fed up with the politics we see today will find a home in the Conservative party under my leadership. This will be a great coalition, because old Tories will come back, new Tories will join. Those who have voted Liberal, NDP, Reform, even some who have voted BQ, are joining the party through my campaign. This coalition will create a force and momentum which will make this party once again the party of national destiny.

I want to thank those thousands of new people who flocked to join the party and have carried our campaign with an astonishing force and vigour across the nation. You have already set in place the rejuvenation of this party and the momentum which can defeat the Liberals in the very next election.

Every secretary and every fisherman, every farmer and every housewife, will be welcome in the Progressive Conservative Party which I lead. Every Native person will be welcome, every Francophone, every railway worker, business person and artist, every new Canadian and old. All will be welcome in the party which I lead.

I intend to draw together and give hope to all of those who feel that Canada can have a future of dignity and of greatness. For many years Canada was under the wing of France. Then for almost 200 years under Great Britain. For the past 50 years we have been under the wing of the United States. It is time now for us to spread our own wings and fly. We have all the resources and strength we need to do so. There is no need for a single person in a country like Canada to be unemployed and, under my leadership, Canada will stand as an independent nation on the world stage.

So what am I asking of you tonight? With your help and strength, we will put Canada back in Canadian hands -- the only hands in which our future is safe. Alone, I cannot do this. With your support, we will turn the tide of history.

Ensemble nous pouvons reconstruire notre parti et notre pays. Accompagnez-moi sur le chemin de la victoire.

Merci et bon soir. Thank you and goodnight.

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