Brantford Expositor, December 11, 2002
Canada first, says PC who wants Clark's job
by Richard Beales
He wants Canada to scrap its free trade agreements with the United
States and Mexico. He's in favour the Kyoto accord, wants labelling
on all genetically modified foods and is against private funding
of political parties.
David Orchard may not sound to most observers like the average
Progressive Conservative Party leadership candidate, but he would
disagree with that assessment.
"That depends on what you call average," the single 52-year-old
organic farmer from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, said Tuesday during
a visit to the Expositor. "I farm three miles from the Diefenbacker
homestead, and some thought (former Prime Minister John) Diefenbacker
wasn't an average Progressive Conservative when he won the leadership.
"That's in the eye of the beholder a little bit."
The man who finished second to Joe Clark in the 1998 PC vote feels
his sovereignty first ideals are closer to traditional Toryism than
anything we're seeing in the party today.
Orchard said the Conservatives have traditionally been the anti-free
trade party, having fought the Liberals on the issue both in 1891
and 1911. Only in the 1980's, when Brian Mulroney became Prime Minister,
did that position change, he said.
Orchard has been criss-crossing the country for the past six weeks
to drum up support for another leadership bid. He won't decide whether
he's going to vie to become Clark's successor until January, he
said, but he's definitely leaning that way.
After his visit to the Expositor, he spoke to about 50 people at
the St. Paul Avenue branch of the Brantford Public Library. Supporters
were selling his books and tapes at a side table, as well as memberships
to the PC Party.
Orchard recognizes that his platform goes against the blue-Tory
policies brought in by Mulroney and continued through the party's
rebuilding days. But for a $10 membership, he said, "You can
change that party, rebuild that direction."
The direction Orchard is heading is one that places Canadian sovereignty
above all else, and seeks to rid the country of unnecessary American
influence, be it political, economic or cultural. Orchard hopes
this process of $10 democracy not only helps get his views heard,
but gets him selected as party leader. By buying a membership card,
PC members get to elect one of the their riding association's 10
delegates to the leadership convention.
In the 14 years since the first free-trade agreement with the U.S.
was signed, Orchard told the crowd, 10,000 companies have been taken
American interests. He also railed against those who would have
us adopt a common currency with the U.S., saying that will mean
a merger with the U.S. federal reserve and "an end to our monetary
or fiscal independence."
Orchard said he's not against trade, pointing out that Saskatchewan
is Canada's most trade-dependent province. And he said there's nothing
wrong with true free trade. It's the terms of 1989 and 1994 agreements
that put Canada at a continual competitive disadvantage.
Those terms dictate that 60% of Canada's natural gas must go to
the Americans, he said, and that other energy sources such as petroleum
from the tar sands "goes across the border at zero per cent
Orchard especially dislikes Chapter 11 of the North American Free
Trade Agreement, which "gives the right to foreign companies
to sue the Canadian government."
Ethyl Corporation of Virginia was one of 15 U.S. companies to sue
Canada, after the federal government banned one of its products,
fuel additive MMT. Even though California and some European nations
also banned the additive, Ethyl sued only Canada, for $350 million.
Why? Because it could.
"In a matter of months," Orchard said, "the government
Canadian foreign policy has also started to reflect U.S. interests,
he said. While Canada resisted the call to arms in Viet Nam, Cuba
and Grenada, it has not done so in Yugoslavia and may not in Iraq,
should the U.S. declare war.
Canadians must stand up for their own positions, he said, adding
that a good start would be to exercise clauses in the free-trade
agreements which allow Canada to cancel its participation with six
months notice to the U.S. and Mexico, and revert to previously established
World Trade Organization agreements.
Orchard acknowledged that business interests would fight against
such a move, but said a move to provide public funding of political
parties would go a long way toward correcting that problem.
He noticed that both the Tories and the Liberals, at various times,
campaigned against free trade before flopping on that position once
in power. "They know what they need to say to get elected,
and then they reverse themselves, (to satisfy campaign supporters),"
"We have to have a system of public funding of our political