David Orchard
2003 PC Party Leadership Convention
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May 29, 2003

We can and will build up a Northern power

by David Orchard

Merci beaucoup, Bob Blair. Bonsoir mesdames et messieurs.

C'est un grand honneur et plaisir d'ŕtre avec vous ce soir.

J'aimerais rendre homage Ó M. Clark pour tous ses efforts. Comme tout le monde sait, Joe, vous avez travaillÚ avec acharnement pour notre Parti.

I would like to extend special recognition to Joe Clark for his role in sustaining our Party through difficult times. You insisted our Party be a big tent and welcomed all Canadians into it, and for that I thank you, Joe. As you know it was not my preference that you step down, but you have, and I wish the very best to you, Maureen and Katherine.

As some of you know this is my second time in the contest for the leadership of our Party. In 1998, some said that if Orchard didn't win, he would disappear.

Instead, I worked hard ever since to help rebuild the Party. I ran in Prince Albert in the election of 2000. I didn't win there but ended up with the highest percentage of votes of any Tory candidate in Saskatchewan. And I'm proud to say I gave my full support to Mr. Clark throughout his leadership.

Now I am running again for the privilege of leading this great party.

I believe we need a viable national alternative to the Liberals and that the Progressive Conservative Party can be that alternative.

Our Party is Canada's oldest. It negotiated Confederation. Then the entry of all of western Canada, then the Arctic territories. It gave women the right to vote and passed the Statute of Westminster giving Canada its independence from Britain.

In fact, of the eight most significant events of Canada's history listed many years ago in my Encyclopedia Canadiana, the Conservative Party was responsible for seven.

After Confederation, the Party flung a railway across the nation to hold it together and it fought off repeated attempts by the Liberals to see our country merged into the U.S. republic.

Building an all-Canadian railway was impossible, the Liberals said. It couldn't be done. The idea was "an example of the criminal absurdity of nationalism." How could a new country of just four million people build the world's greatest railway?

John A. Macdonald and George-╔tienne Cartier built it, laying the foundation for a thriving Canadian economy and social order.

In 1917, Robert Borden and Arthur Meighen created the CNR, Canada's second national railway.

R.B. Bennett established the Bank of Canada, the CBC and the Canadian Wheat Board, now the largest marketer of wheat and barley in the world and our country's top net earner of foreign currency.

The Diefenbaker government moved the Saskatchewan CCF-NDP model of medicare onto the national stage and extended full civil and human rights to Aboriginal people, including for the first time, the right to vote.

Under Brian Mulroney, the Party negotiated the Acid Rain Treaty with the U.S., reaffirmed Canada's ban on the death penalty and set up the first Royal Commission on Aboriginal people.

This is our Party. The greatest nation building institution in Canada and one of the greatest on earth.

Now there are some who say it is time to give it all up. Railways and medicare are old history. It's time now to unite the right. To merge with the Canadian Alliance, give up the Party's name and hand it over in marriage to Stephen Harper and the remnants of the Reform Party.

Never, I say. Un fusion avec l'Alliance Canadienne -- jamais!

I have fought since 1998 against the takeover of our Party by the Canadian Alliance. I was proud to help enshrine in our Constitution the provision that we will run 301 Progressive Conservative candidates in every general election.

Under my leadership I can assure you the Progressive Conservative Party name and record of achievement will be safe. There will be no takeover of our Party, no merger agreements, no joint candidates with the Canadian Alliance. We will rebuild our Party with policies that will return it to power.

Several of my colleagues in this race have said that if elected leader they will "reduce the distance between our Party and the Canadian Alliance."

I can tell you that I will reduce the distance between our Party and the Canadian people.

That will be my focus. And in the party I lead we will welcome all those who have voted Reform or Canadian Alliance in the past, or Liberal, NDP, Bloc Quebecois, or in despair have given up voting.

Now, some have said that David Orchard is a not a real a Conservative, he's a maverick, a misfit in the Party.

If this is so, I'm in good company.

Sir George ╔tienne Cartier, the great co-founder of our Party, was a rebel. He fought with the Patriotes in 1837 and was exiled from Canada with a price on his head. At least that hasn't happened to me -- yet.

A decade later Cartier was in Parliament and it was he who made Confederation possible. The railway building poet who wrote Mon pays, mes amours, the beautiful song that inspired our national anthem.

There was powerful pressure from the south to simply annex Canada. Cartier said no. "Fortune favours the brave," he said. "We can and will build up a northern power."

When Robert Borden and Arthur Meighen nationalised the CNR creating the longest railway on the continent, they were accused of being "Bolsheviks," not real Conservatives.

When R.B. Bennett introduced his New Deal social programmes and the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, which is still helping western agriculture today, he was accused of being a "Tory of the Left," a socialist, a misfit and more.

When John Diefenbaker won the leadership of the Party, some said he was "too left wing" to lead the the Progressive Conservative party. They called him a "prairie Bolshevik." Yet he led the Party to a record smashing victory.

I follow in the footsteps of these great leaders. Were they real Conservatives? I ask you be the judge.

When he co-founded our Party in 1854, John A. Macdonald said, our aim should be "to embrace every person desirous of being counted a progressive Conservative." That will be the motto of my leadership. In the party that I lead, all Canadians will be welcome, new Canadians and francophones whose roots go back 400 years, Aboriginal people whose roots date 10,000 years and the entire cultural mosaic of Canada. All will be welcome. Because there will be no misfits in the party that I lead.

Thousands from across Canada have joined the Party in response to my campaign. Some who have never been politically active before, others who have come back to the Party, and still others from the Alliance, from the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc. I believe I have shown that I am the one who who can broaden our Party's base and this can lead us to victory.

I am not a cutting and slashing Conservative, one who wants to dismantle government and public institutions. I agree with the great British Conservative Benjamin Disraeli who told us that power has but one duty, "to elevate the condition of the people and maintain the institutions of the country."

These words have particular significance for us today, as all around us we see our country losing its distinctive identity, becoming less Canadian as key institutions are dismantled and destroyed by the present Liberal administration.

I am running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party of Canada, because I do not want to see our country disappear. And neither do most Canadians.

Yet the Liberals are taking us down the road to deeper integration into the United States on all fronts -- economically, culturally, even militarily.

And this policy is devastating our country.

In the past decade and a half, 10,000 Canadian companies have moved into foreign hands. From the forest giants of British Columbia, to the grain and resource companies of the prairies, even the fabled Montreal Canadians are now U.S. owned.

There remain fewer than a dozen major, widely held Canadian companies left listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Our standard of living has dropped dramatically from second in the world to seventh, our savings rate has plunged. Homelessness, family debt and child poverty are at record levels.

The Liberals plan deeper immersion into the U.S. economy which will inevitably mean Canada adopting the U.S. dollar as the common currency for North America.

If we give up our currency, it will mean the end of our fiscal and monetary independence.

This does not have to happen.

Instead of dismantling our country, the Canadian conservatism I advocate will protect and strengthen it.

Instead of selling off our companies and moving the head offices out of the country with the accompanying loss of jobs, decision making power and lower standard of living, we would put in place policies to foster world class Canadian industries with their head offices right here in Canada.

My brand of conservatism would create an atmosphere where Canadian enterprises, large and small, can flourish once again with a goal of full employment so all Canadians can pursue their dreams.

Instead of tearing down our once world class research capacity in agriculture, in forestry, in the north, in the coastal fishery, as the Liberals have done with ruinous consequences, my conservatism would reestablish and enhance our once vital, cutting edge work in these areas.

In health care, I strongly support a public, universal system of free coverage for all. A policy of two-tier health care as advocated by my colleagues in this race would be the kiss of death for our Party. Stockwell Day found this out the hard way in the last election.

My conservatism has a strong emphasis on the protection of the environment. All across the globe the winds of change are blowing and a key reality of our time is the ecological movement, which is based upon the impulse to conserve.

We have a wonderful opportunity in Canada to preserve what is still one of the most unsullied countries in the world. We must not squander this priceless heritage.

We must reverse the disastrous policy of ripping up our rail lines and selling them for scrap. Countries around the world are taking steps to enhance their rail capacity. Europe runs on trains. For the sake of the environment and for reasons of efficiency we must follow suit.

Under my direction we would enhance our rail capacity, move more goods and people by rail thus cutting down the pollution and congestion in our major cities and highways.

We are the nation with the longest coast line in the world, a trading nation. And within the memory of many in this room, Canada was a major ship builder with the third largest merchant fleet in the western world. Today our ship yards sit starved for work while our shipping magnates like Paul Martin buy their ships off shore and run their fleets under foreign flags of convenience to avoid paying tax in Canada. I would change this. Simply by adopting legislation similar to that in place in the United States we could have bustling ship yards in Canada once again.

Our military, the key to our sovereignty, has been cut to the point that we are virtually defenceless. We are incapable at times of even rescuing our people lost at sea, let alone doing the kind of peace keeping work for which we were once famous. What is left of our military is being placed by the current administration further under U.S. command. I would rebuild the Canadian armed forces keeping them under Canadian command.

In foreign policy I'm a strong defender of the rule of international law and I would act in its promotion, not its breach.

Now some say that David Orchard is against international trade, against the very idea of free trade.

In fact, I think that free trade could be a good idea -- if we actually had it. But we don't. As the lumber industry and the grain producers and the steel and hog producers know only too well. Even the blueberry growers are being threatened with the sting of the U.S. tariff.

I come from the most trade dependent province in Canada and am all in favour of the commendable goal of freer international trade.

But there are certain clauses in our existing trade agreements that, as we are finding out, have left us vulnerable to escalating trade harassment, and at the same time are, deeply affecting our sovereignty as a nation.

Does this make me against international trade? Absolutely not.

Does this put me out of step with the great Progressive Conservative Party of Canada? I don't think so. For 130 years, it was our Party that stood against the idea of continental integration and for the defence of our sovereignty.

I advocate we reclaim that honourable ground.

I don't think Canadians want three parties advocating the merger of our country into our powerful neighbour. We already have the Liberals and the Canadian Alliance promoting that position. If we go back to the traditional Conservative idea of standing in defence of Canada, Canadians will have a choice. And I believe they will respond to us in droves.

We have all the resources, space, opportunity and talent to be a proud, successful nation standing on its two feet and trading profitably around the world. What we are lacking in Ottawa is the vision and the political will to do so.

I believe the policies I advocate will provide that vision and return our Party to governance. I stand for Canada. I stand for improving the quality of life for all Canadians. The Conservative idea of the "common good" must, I believe, become the overriding commitment of our Party. If we do this, if we stand against the Liberals and their march down the road leading to the end of our country, then we can and will touch the hearts and minds of Canadians once again, and we will not only save our Party, we will save our country. This is where I stand and I ask for your help and support to make it so.

Merci beaucoup tout le monde. J'aimerais avoir votre appui.

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