David Orchard Biography
Gabriel Hennings/CanWest News Service
David Orchard is a fourth generation prairie farmer. The
century-old Orchard farm is located at Borden, Saskatchewan, where
his father was born in the log house on the homestead built by his
parents and grandparents. David's father, Ralph Orchard, was an
active member of his community, serving on numerous school, church
and community boards. His mother, Margaret Anna (nee Ballard), also
born on a pioneer Saskatchewan homestead, graduated near the head
of her nursing class and served overseas during World War II on the
first eight years of his schooling David Orchard attended Halcyonia
school, the same rural school that John Diefenbaker had attended
many years earlier. (The Orchard farm is located just 3 miles from
the Diefenbaker homestead.)
Orchard completed his high school
in Borden, Saskatchewan, and then went on to study first in the
Faculty of Arts and Science, and then Law, at the University of
Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. After completing his first year of law,
he undertook a working tour of a dozen countries across the globe,
before taking over the family farm. Constitutional law professor,
Howard McConnell, later wrote of his former student: "Although
Orchard decided not to pursue further law studies, he finished
easily in the top ten percent of his first year class."
Orchard later studied
French at Laval University's immersion programme in Quebec City.
A successful pioneer
of the organic agriculture movement, Orchard has raised his wheat,
oats, barley, canola and alfalfa crops without herbicides,
pesticides, chemicals or genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
since 1975. Over the years he has expanded his farming operation to
over 2500 acres, roughly 25% of which he maintains in natural
forest and prairie habitat.
In 1985, Orchard was a
founder of Citizens Concerned About Free Trade (CCAFT), a
non-partisan citizens organization concerned about the effects on
Canadian sovereignty of the free trade agreements with the U.S.
(FTA and later NAFTA). A nationwide mobilization led by CCAFT
convinced the Canadian Senate to block the proposed FTA in 1988,
forcing a general election on the issue, in which a majority of
Canadians cast their ballots for parties opposed to the FTA.
In 1993, he authored
the best-selling book, The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of
Resistance to American Expansionism (Stoddart, 1993; 2nd ed. Robert
Davies, 1999), also available in French as Hors des griffes de
l'aigle: Quatre siècles de résistance canadienne à l'expansionnisme
américain (Robert Davies, 1998).
The dean of Canadian
historians, Kenneth McNaught, described Orchard's book as
"distinctly moving" and "forthright and carefully researched,"
adding, "...in an era of crumbling federal states, or reinvigorated
ethnicity and tribalism, and of enormous pressure to seek shelter
in harmonizing economic blocs, it is time to talk a little about
love of country. Orchard does this intelligently, perceptively.
Moreover, he has taken the trouble (a great deal of it) to provide
a convincing historical analysis of the struggle waged by
generations of Canadians to maintain their right to forge a society
different from - and perceived by them as more humane than - that
of their republican neighbour."
historian, Howard Zinn, described The Fight for Canada as
"...devastatingly accurate...a fine piece of research and written
with the kind of clarity that makes it accessible to a large
public, which it deserves."
retired chairman of Noranda, said, "Orchard has demonstrated an
intellectual grasp of issues that few people understand. This book
gives him enormous standing. The scholarship is amazing and the
logic compelling. Read it and you'll be the better Canadian for
it." Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, commenting on the
pre-publication manuscript, called it "a masterful treatment of the
early history of Canada."
David Orchard is an
opponent of both Western and Quebec separatism and a strong
defender of the French and Aboriginal facts throughout Canada. He
actively campaigned against the Meech Lake and Charlottetown
Accords, because of what he referred to as their "mortal weakening
of the national government - the only institution that speaks for
Orchard has a strong
track record as an environmentalist who walks his talk. He has
played a significant role in the opposition to the burial of
nuclear waste on Canadian soil and to the clear cutting of our
forests. He has an active commitment to clean air, food and water.
His passion for the protection of the environment, wild life, and
Canadian heritage sites is well known.
advocates a Canadian foreign policy designed to serve Canada's
interests. A strong defender of international law, he has opposed
the bombing and occupation of Iraq, the bombing of Yugoslavia in
1999 and of Afghanistan in 2001. He sees these actions as
violations of international law and the U.N. Charter. He is a
proponent of rebuilding Canada's military to be an effective
protector of our territorial integrity and of keeping our armed
forces under Canadian command.
In 1998, David Orchard
ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of
Canada, placing second to Joe Clark. He campaigned on the issues
that had brought him to public life: defence of Canada's
sovereignty, protection of the environment and the democratization
and reform of our electoral system, including its financing. His
campaign drew into the party a wide range of Canadians, among them
Bob Blair, "the man who built Nova Corporation"; singer-songwriter
Stompin' Tom Connors; writer Margaret Atwood; Noranda's Adam
Zimmerman, and concert pianist Anton Kuerti, to name only a few.
After the 1998
leadership race, Orchard worked across the country to help rebuild
the Progressive Conservative Party. In the 2000 federal election he
was the PC candidate in the riding of Prince Albert. Although not
elected, he received the highest percentage of votes of any PC
candidate in the province of Saskatchewan.
In 2003, David Orchard
ran again for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party
and went in to the leadership convention with the second highest
number of delegates. After receiving a signed agreement from Peter
MacKay stating that if he became the leader, he would uphold the PC
Party constitution and not merge the party with the Canadian
Alliance or run joint candidates with that party, undertake a
review of NAFTA, and make environmental protection, sustainable
agriculture, forestry and increased rail transportation policy
priorities, Orchard advised his delegates to vote for MacKay on the
final ballot thereby ensuring MacKay's victory. When MacKay went
back on his word and began merger talks with Stephen Harper, David
Orchard was a leader of the fight (ultimately unsuccessful) to
prevent the merger from taking place, including going to court to
protect the rights of Progressive Conservatives.
In 2005, Orchard
joined the Liberal party and campaigned actively against the new
"Conservative" party, which he saw as the outcome of a hostile
takeover of the old Progressive Conservative party. In 2006,
Orchard played an active role in support of Stephane Dion's
leadership bid. In 2008 he won the Liberal nomination in the
northern Saskatchewan riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill
River. He placed a strong second in the subsequent 2008 federal
David Orchard is a
frequent guest on radio and TV programmes and debates. His articles
appear in Canada's major newspapers.
David Orchard farms at Borden, Saskatchewan, S0K 0N0
Tel: (306) 652-7095 (residence), 664-8443 (office), fax (306) 244-3790