New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, August
Tory candidate nudges party back to its roots
by Jackie Webster
David Orchard. One of the candidates for the leadership of the PC party, made
necessary by the resignation of Jean Charest. Not yet a household
name, but that is changing as the race heats up. His is a fresh
new voice on the national scene and Tories who will cast their vote
on October 24 would do well to pay more than passing attention to
the Saskatchewan organic farmer.
In Saint John last weekend, the Tory hopefuls gathered and made
their pitch for party support. Hugh Segal and former prime minister
Joe Clark, both credible candidates, are perceived as the front
There was Mr. Segal: witty, urbane, funny. Slick.
There was Mr. Clark: earnest, worthy, serious. Not slick. Both
spoke of how they would rebuild the party. There was, however, a
perception among some that no fire burns fiercely in either belly,
though both must badly want the post.
Why else spend the languorous days of summer, crisscrossing the
land, making their pitch while so many of those they would woo boated
or sailed or golfed away the lazy days; the leadership race for
the time very far from their thoughts.
Both men echo the Mulroney years, but from different standpoints.
Mr. Segal, a longtime backroom operative, in policy matters not
startlingly different from the prime minister he served, and Joe
Clark, the antithesis of Brian Mulroney, but remembered as one who
permitted himself to be outmanoeuvred by the same Mr. Mulroney who
wanted to replace him. And did.
Then there is David Orchard.
What of this young man who, like Lochinvar, has come out of the
West, and sent shock waves coursing through Ottawa's free traders
with his opposition to the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, its
even more ominous extension, NAFTA and lately, to the Multilateral
Agreement on Investment - MAI?
"The Conservative party has historically been the party opposed
to free trade with the United States and has stood against the absorption
of Canada into the U.S. economy," he said Saturday in Saint John.
"In the last 15 years, the party has strayed from this long-held
and successful position and has lost its bearings. It is my goal
to take the party back to the rock solid foundations that were built
by the founders," he said. "The founders of the party -- George
Etienne Cartier, John A. Macdonald, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Robert
Borden and others -- fought to build a strong and domestically controlled
Canadian economy." And that is as it should be, says Mr. Orchard.
Already, he is in a position to say, "I told you so.
"Take the Ethyl additive, MMT. In late l996, the Canadian Parliament
approved Bill C-29, officially the Manganese-Based Fuel Additive
Act. It prohibited use of the additive, MMT, believed to be a hazard
to public health and to the environment. The Ethyl Corp. product
had been banned in Europe and in California, and in other areas
of high pollution in the United States. Canada merely exercised
its sovereignty in banning the transportation or importation of
Not so fast.
Ethyl Corp., of Virginia, launched a $347-million lawsuit against
the Canadian government, which settled out of court, paying Ethyl
close to $20-million and -- listen to this -- providing a written
letter of apology. All this after the federal government was advised
that Ethyl would likely win a challenge to the ban under the rules
On the day that David Orchard spoke in Saint John of the risks
to Canadian sovereignty inherent in NAFTA, came the revelation that
the Canadian government has been dealing in secret with a case concerning
the export of dangerous waste material.
The lawsuit, from Ohio-based company S.D. Myers, Inc., centres
on a l995 Canadian government ban on the export of PCB contaminated
waste. That ban was lifted in early l997, after U.S. firms announced
they would complain under NAFTA.
Myers now wants compensation for lost profits during the period
of the ban.
It seems apparent from these two cases alone that the Canadian
government has its hands tied by NAFTA when it comes to protecting
the environment and public health. Yet, among the leadership hopefuls,
David Orchard is the only candidate who has steadfastly spoken out
against the loss of Canadian sovereignty.
Critics complain that he is a one-note singer. Not so. He outlined
at least four wide-ranging themes on which his campaign is built:
An end to the deterioration of Canada's environment; opposition
to the "misnamed" free trade agreements, damaging to the economy
and to Canadian sovereignty; no more tinkering with the Constitution;
and a stop to the devolution of more powers from the central government
to the provinces.
The national government is the only institution that speaks for
all Canadians, he said. Citing the adage, "he who pays the piper
calls the tune," he calls for an end to the current system of corporate
financing of political parties and a move towards a more democratic
Almost anything you might want to learn o David Orchard can be
found in his book: The Fight for Canada (Stoddart, l993), an eminently
readable account of four centuries of resistance to American expansionism.
He has provided 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 neighbors. The book is lively and
In any campaign, name-recognition is important. It has been a
long time since Joe Clark was Joe Who? Hugh Segal, not as well known,
except to students of the Mulroney years, but still becoming better
known each day. On the other hand, David Orchard has a lot of catching
up to do, name-recognition-wise, so remember that name: David Orchard,
organic farmer from Saskatchewan with a message you just might want
Jackie Webster lives in Fredericton.