"Who will speak for Canada?"
David Orchard's speaking
notes delivered at January 10, 2006 press conference at
Liberal candidate Chris Axworthy's campaign office,
It is a pleasure to be here today, Chris, to offer
you my support in Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, my home riding.
My family has farmed at Borden for over a hundred years
-- I'm the fourth generation on the farm there -- and
I'm pleased you are running once again in our riding.
I'm going to make a few comments about the election
and then will be happy to take questions.
Throughout its history Canada has faced two
reoccurring perils -- the danger of assimilation into
our powerful southern neighbour and the threat of
In my view, this is an important election that we are
involved in today. There are serious dangers, I think,
for our country. One of the big winners in this election
is going to be the separatist movement in the province
In triggering an election at this time, both Mr.
Harper and Mr. Layton were prepared to play with the
fires of Quebec separatism in an attempt to increase
their own positions in the House of Commons. It is a
dangerous and a short-sighted effort that could hurt our
country badly and give a powerful momentum to those
working very hard to take our country apart.
If Mr. Harper wins a minority government, he will be
governing with the support of the Bloc, a party whose
primary aim, whose number one platform position, is to
take Quebec out of Canada. It is not hard to see what
the quid pro quo will be. Mr. Harper has said openly
that he is prepared to weaken the national government --
the only institution that speaks for all Canadians --
and hand out more of its powers to the provinces. Well,
the Bloc will certainly be right there with him on that.
The process of devolving the powers of our national
institutions to the provinces will be another major step
forward for the separatists in their strategy to take
Quebec out of Canada step by step -- étape-par-étape --
and a big boost for both the Bloc and the Parti
We may well be facing another Quebec referendum
during the mandate of the next federal parliament. Mr.
Parizeau has laid out the separatist strategy quite
clearly. It's like a hockey game, he said. The first
period is for the Bloc to win a clear majority of seats
in this federal election. The second period is for the
PQ to win the next provincial election. Both of these
goals are looking increasingly achievable. The third
period is the referendum with the organizing clout of a
majority of both the federal and provincial seats in the
Who then will rally and speak for the federalist
forces at the national level? Who will speak for Canada?
In 1980, Mr. Trudeau did, in 1995, Mr. Chrétien. If Mr.
Harper holds power after the election, who believes he
will be able to inspire Quebecers to remain in Canada?
His past writings attacking bilingualism as "the God
that failed," his advocacy of a firewall around Alberta
and his lack of roots in French Canada are just a few of
the lethal obstacles his message would face in Quebec.
For these reasons, among others, I believe there is
only one party that is capable of holding our country
together and that is the party for which Chris is a
If the Conservatives win a majority, then what can we
expect? Let's look at a few of their other policy
positions. Agriculture is a big industry in our
province; it's a big industry in this riding, as you all
know. The Canadian Wheat Board is the world's largest
marketer of wheat and barley, Canada's largest net
earner of foreign currency and one of the few remaining
support systems left for western grain farmers. Without
it we would probably have had the damaging release of
genetically modified wheat in our country. The new
Conservatives have repeatedly stated their intention to
dismantle and destroy the powers of the Canadian Wheat
Board. Without the Wheat Board, our grain industry will
move, virtually overnight, into U.S. hands and we'll see
even more farmers driven off the land. To his credit,
Mr. Goodale and the Liberal cabinet have refused to bow
to U.S. pressure to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board.
The new Conservative Party would move quickly to give
the giant U.S. grain companies exactly what they want in
Canada. We saw that in the BSE crisis. Which party was
it that moved to block an investigation into the
exorbitant profits made by the U.S. based multinationals
which control Canada's meat packing industry? There was
unanimous all-party support, except from Mr. Harper's
party, which stepped forward to protect these giant
corporations from an examination of their books. This is
just one example. I believe farmers across Canada and
agriculture in general, would be badly hurt by a victory
of the new Conservative party.
On the international stage, what would happen to our
country if Mr. Harper and the Conservatives win a
majority? Both Stephen Harper and his deputy, Peter
MacKay, were adamant in their support for the U.S.
invasion of Iraq. Both men are trying to deny this now.
But I was there. I debated Mr. MacKay on this very
question as the bombs began to fall. He was lambasting
Prime Minister Chrétien for being a coward in not
backing the American bombardment of Iraq and offered his
full support for the U.S. attack. Then both Stephen
Harper and his foreign affairs critic, Stockwell Day,
wrote in the Wall Street Journal, a foreign newspaper,
slamming their own government. In their article,
published on March 28, 2003, they wrote:
"Today the world is at war. A coalition of countries
under the leadership of the U.K. and the U.S. is leading
a military intervention to disarm Saddam Hussein. Yet PM
Chrétien has left Canada outside this multilateral
coalition of nations. This is a serious mistake… The
Canadian Alliance -- the official opposition in
Parliament -- supports the American and British
It couldn't be much clearer than that. While the vast
majority of Canadians -- French and English speaking --
are grateful to Prime Minister Chrétien for his courage,
Mr. Harper, Mr. Day and Mr. MacKay would have had Canada
participating in the illegal invasion and occupation of
Iraq, and today Canadian women and men would be coming
home in body bags.
Aboriginal people are a major component of our
society in this province -- what is the position of this
new party on Aboriginal questions? One of Mr. Harper's
principal advisors is a man named Thomas Flanagan. Mr.
Flanagan came here from the United States and has made a
career attacking the rights of Aboriginal people. He
wrote his book, First Nation? Second Thoughts, sneering
at the very the idea of treaty rights. The Canadian
Alliance position was for privatization of the Native
reserves and the deliberate assimilation of Aboriginal
people and their cultures.
I notice this new Conservative Party has run a
campaign focused on ethics. For months Mr. Harper and
Mr. MacKay have been talking loudly about honesty,
integrity and trustworthiness in our public figures.
Well, the ethics of Mr. Harper and Mr. MacKay are
unfortunately something I happen to know about -- from
Some of you will remember the last leadership
convention of the PC party in 2003. Mr. MacKay and I
went into that convention with the two largest blocks of
delegates. At the end of the day, Mr. MacKay sought my
support. We negotiated an agreement. We put it in
writing and we both signed it. Mr. MacKay is a lawyer.
He knows the meaning of a signature. He shook my hand,
looked me in the eye and swore that he would be living
by the terms of the agreement. The agreement was to
honour the constitution of the Progressive Conservative
Party of Canada -- the party he was about to assume the
leadership of -- and to run Progressive Conservative
candidates in every election in every riding across the
country. Point number one of our agreement was that
there was to be no merger or joint candidates with the
After signing our contract, we went down to the
convention floor and held a scrum in front of the media
and outlined the terms of our agreement to the country.
Then I and the majority of my delegates delivered our
part of the bargain. We voted for Mr. MacKay and made
him leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of
Afterwards, what did Peter MacKay do? Mr. Harper
urged him to abandon his commitments to the PC Party and
his agreement with me, and to merge the party into the
Canada Alliance. This the two men did -- in a blatantly
fraudulent manner. They arranged to stack the
ratification vote of the PC party, whose members had
steadfastly opposed merging with the Alliance -- by
allowing tens of thousands of Alliance members to join
the PC Party to overwhelm our existing membership and
the voting process itself. They then trumpeted a
so-called 90% majority for the merger and destroyed the
founding party of Canada. These are the two men who
would now lecture the rest of the political spectrum in
Canada about ethics.
To top it off, on a personal level, Mr. Harper, Mr.
MacKay, and the new Conservative Party of Canada seized
$ 70,000 of donations that had been made to my
leadership campaign in the Progressive Conservative
party -- donations that should have been returned to me
within 48 hours of my sending them in to PC party
headquarters in 2003. That was two and a half years ago.
They are still holding that money today and are
attempting to blackmail me into signing a commitment
that I will never sue Peter MacKay or Stephen Harper for
their role in creating this new, so-called Conservative
Party of Canada. Their lawyers have said that if I'll
sign that commitment, then they'll release my money to
me. These are the men who clothe themselves in white
robes -- as paragons of virtue -- telling us day after
day they are going to run a government based on honesty,
ethics and integrity.
For all of these reasons, I'm urging Canadians to
look long and hard before buying what Mr. Harper is
attempting to sell them on January 23rd.
In closing, I believe that in this riding, Chris
Axworthy, with his experience at both the federal and
provincial level, would make a strong MP. The
Conservative party has been using a slogan "It's time
for a change." If I could borrow that slogan in the
Wanuskewin riding -- currently held by Maurice Vellacott,
formerly a Reformer, then Canadian Alliance, now calling
himself a Conservative -- I sincerely believe it's time
for a change and I hope you'll be the agent of that
MEDIA QUESTION: Mr. Orchard, some might
argue that you have a personal axe to grind with the
Conservative Party. How could you convince voters that
it's really the Liberals you support and not the
Conservatives you're against?
DAVID ORCHARD: Well, I'm doing both. The men
behind this new so-called Conservative party stole the
name and the reputation of the Progressive Conservative
Party in a manner, which I pointed out, was fraudulent
and deceitful. Then they stole the colours of the Party
and now they are even calling themselves "Tories," as
they march across the country, when the views of the
party they represent would have Sir John A MacDonald and
John Diefenbaker turning in their graves.
I believe these people are imposters and I believe
they would like to take our country far to the right and
deep into U.S. control. I also believe that the only
force capable on a national basis of counterbalancing
their thrust is the Liberal Party of Canada.
I spoke about Quebec. On the ground in Quebec, the
Liberal Party is the vehicle that has consistently
fought the forces that would break up our country. Like
it or not, in two referendums, those fighting for
national unity were led by the Liberal leaders Pierre
Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien. Today, it is the
Liberal Party that is leading the fight against
separatism, and is in my view, the only vehicle with the
strength and will to hold this country together.
MEDIA QUESTION: Where do things stand right
now as far as trying to get your money back?
DAVID ORCHARD: We will be going to court at
the end of this month to attempt once again to force the
new Conservative Party to honour an agreement it with me
made over a year ago to pay back my money. I accepted
and signed their offer. Then they wouldn't pay the
money. When it came time to hand over the cheque, they
said, "Oh, but just a minute. Before we give you the
funds, we want you to sign a promise that you won't sue
Peter MacKay or Stephen Harper or anyone involved for
their actions in merging the two parties." That demand
had nothing whatsoever to do with the case of my
$70,000. They are openly attempting to take my
constitutional rights away and blackmail me with my own
money. These are donations made to my campaign by
citizens from across Canada, given under our country's
electoral laws, and that are now in the coffers of a
completely different political party, one whose
formation I opposed, a party that has just grabbed them.
Might is right, so what are you going to do about it, is
their message. That is where things stand on that front.
MEDIA QUESTION: Did you consider running
for the Liberal Party in this election?
DAVID ORCHARD: We had a number of discussions
about that, yes. It wasn't in the stars this time
MEDIA QUESTION: Does that leave an opening
for a future election then?
DAVID ORCHARD: You can take that however you
want -- perhaps a topic for another day.
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