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The Province (Vancouver), Monday, 5 July, 1993

Free-trade foe's a hit

by Jeani Read

'Twas the night before Canada Day.

In the Vancouver Public Library downtown people were gathering for the book launch of one of the most interesting author's of the library's Celebrity Authors series: David Orchard.

Quite a lot of people were gathering. There were about twice as many people as seats, with more arriving to stand, lean over the mezzanine railing, perch along the broad baseboards or swipe additional chairs from library tables.

David Orchard, as ever, was proving to be quite a popular guy.

But David Orchard — author?

I bet you thought he was just one of those rabble-rousing anti-free-trade activists, the head of a motley group of — well, honestly, just regular people — called Citizens Concerned About Free Trade. Not an author at all. Certainly not a celebrity author, since he and his followers are so very clearly just-folks.

And since he has never really got to be a really high-profile popular guy (some people find some of the things he says so darn irritating).

But yes, now he's saying those irritating things in print. In the interval between free-trade elections — the one in 1988 and the one I think we can safely assume is coming up — Orchard has written a book, The Fight for Canada (Stoddart, $17.95).

It's already into its second printing. Orchard says American anti-free-trader Ralph Nader has offered to write the foreword to an American edition, which is in the works. The book has enjoyed well-attended launches in Toronto, Thunder Bay, Ottawa and Montreal.

"The Centre Block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa was packed," Orchard smiles at the nice irony. The Vancouver launch was last Wednesday, and Orchard will be at the Victoria Public LIbrary tomorrow and at The Bookstore in Nanaimo July 7.

The cover of The Fight for Canada pretty well sums up the tone of the book: It's a detail of the American flag, showing the white stars of the states — with one star replaced by a Canadian maple leaf.

The Americans have been trying to expand into the north since 1613, Orchard says in his book, and there have been many close calls. But "we haven't capitulated for four centuries. There's no need to capitulate today, in 1993."

If you've ever heard Orchard speak, you'll know he prefaces his remarks with a long and fascinating history of Canada based on these takeover attempts, which used a Variety Pak arsenal of guns, trade and trickery.

The Fight for Canada adds detail to the theme, and then analyses the history and effects of the current free-trade deal with the U.S., the likely effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the dynamics — and defeats — of Meech Lake and the Charlottetown Accord.

One of the main reasons the book exists, apart from providing a unique perspective on Canada's history, is to inspire people to work toward the abrogation of the FTA and prevention of NAFTA. Orchard, among others, believes they spell the death of Canada.

He argues that the only sure solution is a temporary electoral coalition of the NDP and Liberals against the Tories.

Impossible? It's been done many times before in countries facing mortal threat — and we even have a beautiful historical precedent here at home: A coalition of passionate political opponents, after all, allowed the creation of Canada in the first place.

Interested? Call 683-FREE.

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