Montreal Gazette, August 25, 1998
Wake up to NAFTA risk: Tory hopeful
by Philip Authier
It's time Canadians woke
up to the dangers of the North American Free Trade Agreement and continued
efforts to devolve powers to the provinces, maverick Conservativ leadership
hopeful David Orchard said last night.
Despite consistent support in Quebec for both ideas, Orchard told a Montreal
audience that if he becomes the next Tory leader he will lead a campaign to get
out of the deal and then have the country lead the charge t end to further
crippling economic globalization.
As for the constitutional debate, Orchard said the way to make Quebecers
proud to be Canadians is by boosting the economy. He personally opposed the
Meech Lake and Charlottetown constitutional accords because they would have left
the central government too weak. "I don't believe that the problems that Canada
faces are constitutional so I don't think tinkering with the constitution is
going to solve them," Orchard said. "It's going to create new ones. " If we put
everyone in this country to work we'd have genuine pride in this country. French
and English-speaking people would have pride in our nation."
It was Orchard's first campaign event in Quebec since becoming the second
candidate in the race to replace Jean Charest. Orchard drew about 70 people -
mostly anglophones - to a downtown hotel. Many found out about the event from
posters on telephone poles around town. In the back of the room he peddled his
anti-free trade book. The Fight For Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to
American Expansionism. At the end, organizers passed around the plate to pay for
Orchard's travel costs.
That is typical of Orchard's grassroots "Campaign for Canada." An organic
farme from Saskatchewan, Orchard is running his campaign on a shoestring. He's
also running in a Conservative party pushing very un-conservative ideas. He
argues the Conservatives broke with their 120 year history in endorsing free
"I am a Conservative," he argued. "I want to conserve our nation. I want to
conserve our economy. I want to conserve our environment and I want to conserve
the border between ourselves and our powerful neighbour to the south."
How will he do it against such big name candidates as former prime minister
Joe Clark and former backroomer Hugh Segal? Orchard said it's all up to the
people. Orchard is trying to take advantage of the party's decision to open up
its election process and go right to the people. Under the rules of the campaign
to replace Jean Charest, anyone who has a membership card before Sept. 25 gets
to vote for the leader.
"Many people say you don't have a hope," Orchard said. "When they understand
it's now one member, one vote, everything changes." Orchard said he has no idea
how many members he has signed up but said his opponents are astounded, pegging
the figure at about 5,000. Last night's audience was a rag-ta mix of the curious
and passionate but all listened politely to his presentation.
"I came here with an open mind," said Montrealer John Burcombe. "The more the
merrier to get some new ideas and a new twist on things."
"Labels mean nothing to me," added another listener, Martin Brown, who
describe himself as a commercial artist and satiris but who votes Liberal. "It's
silly just to be loyal to one party. Free trade losing operation. It's designed
to make wealthy people wealthier."