David Orchard
The 1998 PC Leadership Race
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Toronto Star, November 11, 1998

Grandkids, phantoms play PC roles

by Dalton Camp

According to the Black press -- in this instance, the new, "improved" Ottawa Citizen -- David Orchard and Saddam Hussein are look-alike and think-alikes. According to Stephen LeDrew, whom we all know as the president of the Liberal Party of Canada, "Orchard has hijacked the party system" by coming third in the Tory leadership race. According to Ross Reid, the national director of the Tory party, "the first-ballot voting on Oct. 24 went without a hitch."

The Orchard campaign has been phoning around, canvassing for the candidate. In Quebec, as of last Monday, volunteers had placed calls, based upon voting lists provided to leadership candidates by the national party office, to 486 telephone numbers. These numbers had been taken from the membership application forms provided especially for the leadership balloting. the names and phone numbers were taken from the membership lists of six Quebec ridings -- Anjou-Rivière-des-Prairies; Bellchase-Etchemins-Montmagny; Bourassa; Chicoutimi; Lac St.-Jean; and Jonquière.

Of the 486 persons called 180 of them were unknown to the persons who answered the phone. Thirty-two of those called, and identified by name, told the callers they were not members of the Progressive Conservative party.

In Matapédia-Matane, the Orchard campaign called every name on the party list of some 200 eligible voting members: every call elicited a wrong number.

Those who made calls in Quebec for Orchard were volunteers whose first language was French. the names and phone numbers, as I've said, were provided by the Conservative party's national office. Obviously, the lists were worthless. Plainly, they had been padded and, it must be suspected, ballot boxes have been stuffed with votes cast by unsuspecting unknown unconservatives.

The national office, preening itself on this nightmare political experiment, should do its own homework. The national director, second only to Joe Clark in proclaiming there would be no further debates between the surviving candidates, has a responsibility to all losing candidates to conduct his own inquiry in order to assure them of the validity of the process, despite the apparent and widespread evidence of fraud and misrepresentation. While the national director has been willing and anxious to assist Clark in his campaign, his duty here is not to Clark but to the party. There is no suggestion that Clark could, or should, have known about the failed process. he has been, nonetheless, the likely beneficiary.

In Quebec last week Orchard was approached by a man who claimed to have rigged the vote in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve by "stuffing" 38 Clark votes in the box at closing time. He informed Orchard, in the presence of two witnesses, of the result of the voting in Mercier: 10 for Hugh Segal, seven for Michael Fortier, two for Orchard. And 10 also for Clark, he said, which he had put in the ballot box himself. He volunteered, for a consideration, to do as much for Orchard in the final vote.

The man identified himself as a party organizer "with 30 years experience." That sounds about right to me, but I suspect this was really an attempt to set up Orchard.

Orchard, among other candidates, lacked the organizational strength to be represented in all Quebec polls. Without scrutineers, voting patterns tend to reflect the presence of a vacuum, which politics abhors as much as nature.

One should not, however, put all these puzzling matters down to the dour view of Quebec politics shared by many who live elsewhere. In Red Deer, Alta., one poll reported only three votes for Orchard; the phone canvass indicated at least 42 Orchard ballots. When his organization challenged the count, the poll captain said a mistake had been made, that only Orchard's advance poll had been reported. Asked to correct that count, the answer was that it could not be done. Pressed further, the answer was that it would be done provided Orchard didn't tell anyone.

Meanwhile, a volunteer working on voters lists in British Columbia called delegate Jenna van Loon, to be told by the person answering that Jenna was out in the yard, "playing." Jenna, it turned out, is 11 years old. She is on the voters list and so is her sister Krissy, who's is 13, who answered the phone.

Asked by the caller how these young women got the vote in Langley-Abbotsford, the response was that "Grandpa signed us up." Indeed, Krissy is "signed up" in Langley and also in the riding of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast.

Finally, the caller asked, "What's granpa's name?"

The granpa of Krissy and Jenna van Loon is Gerry St. Germain. He is a former president of the Progressive Conservative Party and a former cabinet minister in the Mulroney government. He is now an honourable member of the Senate of Canada.

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