David Orchard
The 1998 PC Leadership Race
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Almaguin News (Ontario), 1998

And another thing...

by Richard Thomas

David Orchard wants to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Suits me. So I've joined up. Yep, I'm a Tory. I hope this doesn't cause old time true blue Tories to flee the neighbourhood.

Nobody is better suited to rally a real United Alternative to the Chretien/Martin pack than Orchard. He would create a political home for millions of people who are now unrepresented.

He has an excellent pedigree as a Tory. Point #1: He opposed Mulroney. Point #2: He connects directly to old John A., to Robert Borden and John Diefenbaker. Orchard is best known for carrying on their battle against foreign economic domination.

He has already demonstrated political effectiveness. He is prominent among the able few who learned about the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) and spread the information so that enough people new enough to shout loud enough to at least delay its signing.

That fight goes on. Orchard will be the only political leader able and willing and able to argue intelligently against the MAI. He'll be the only representative for millions of people who now understand and oppose it.

David Orchard is a Saskatchewan farmer, a successful organic farmer. This tells us he is attentive to detail and a canny businessman. As a dedicated environmentalist/conservationist he will become the rallying point for millions more voters who are now unrepresented.

Orchard's fight is ours. It transcends interprovincial bickering and simplistic fretting about deficits. It is a struggle to find a way to hold on to Canada, for Canadians. It is a battle for our resources and our culture; for what we have and who we are.

Globalization of national economies is almost universally seen as irresistible and inevitable. It is hard to find a time in history when so many people believed so tenaciously in an idea so obviously wrong.

The gospel of the globalizers is efficiency. But true efficiency cannot be measured when the measuring unit, money, is fixed to no rational standard but bobs up or down to the whim and greed of money traders.

Efficiency? More than half of all global trade is the exchange of almost identical goods. Fact: Americans import Danish sugar cookies. Danes import American sugar cookies. Why don't they just exchange recipes?

Accurate understanding of cost is essential to understanding efficiency. Global trade ignores a long list of real costs and dumps others onto us. If corporate traders paid the full cost of fuel used to transport their goods, much profit would vanish. So governments subsidize oil and we make up the difference, in taxes. The environmental cost of shipping sugar cookies is ignored. Who benefits?

Capital flits around the world at the tap of a few computer keys. Capital is money that represents resources and labour. It belongs to the people of the nations that produced it. The people stay home. Their wealth goes. Manufacturing jobs go to nations with bare subsistence level wages, or worse to nations that use child labour, prison labour.

Global corporatists want us to believe that unfettered trade raises living standards everywhere. It does, for rich folk almost everywhere. The poor of most countries get poorer and more numerous. Nationless corporations produce wherever labour and environmental standards are most permissive. They sell wherever they can, without penalty. To compete, all nations must lower their standards.

That is what is happening, to Canada and around the world.

Protectionism today is not the protectionism Macdonald and Borden fought for. Our battle is broader and deeper. The tariff needed now would not be to protect sloppy industry against foreign competition. It would be designed to defend our society and our resources, for us and our grandchildren.

A modern tariff system could be modelled on the anti-dumping laws which exist now. They discourage the sale of trade goods at prices below their production costs. A new tariff would compensate for indecent social, wage standards and lax environmental considerations. Only corporatists who call no country home could object.

The wonder is not that David Orchard opposes globalization. The wonder is that not everybody does . . . yet.

Richard Thomas is a farmer and part-time writer from Burks Falls, Ontario, whose weekly column, "And another thing..." appears in the Almaguin News.

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