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The Cambridge Reporter, December 27, 2002, Guest column

Orchard proves green can go with Tory blue

by Matt Foster

I joined the federal PC party the other day. For those who have read my past articles this will come as somewhat of a shock. So why did I do this?

Well, I met David Orchard. As you may recall, he was the runner-up to Joe Clark in the last PC leadership race, and is making an effort to become leader when Joe steps down.

I used to support the PCs in the past but switched my allegiances when I saw them dramatically turn right, and also saw the state of the environment going down the drain. My research into the federal PCs, and David Orchard, confirmed to me that the party indeed lost its direction - and the electorate in the process. Orchard advocates a policy shift to its more historically and traditional "conservative" roots.

He believes the Alliance Party is an attempt to import right-wing evangelical American politics into Canada. I asked myself, "Why would a party that delivers the same rhetoric as the American Republicans want to align with the Conservatives?"

Obviously, it is trying to take advantage of the swing to the right that Mulroney instigated.

This brought up the free trade agreement that the Mulroney Conservatives negotiated and signed. David advocates that we have created a real mess of things. Under the infamous Chapter 11, we gave the American corporations more rights in Canada than Canadian citizens have. They can sue Canada for loss of potential income if we pass any law or regulation that restricts their potential profit. It doesn't matter that they can't do it in their own country. They can do it here, as we have learned much to our chagrin.

Orchard revealed other important concerns as well, that made my blood simmer - such as the export of raw logs to the US without value added labour and to allowing energy export quotas to be non-revocable even in a time of shortage or crisis? We cannot reduce energy export once we have allowed the proportion to rise.

"We produce oil in the Athabasca Tar Sands with zero royalties," Orchard laments. "We signed an energy policy that the Mexicans refused to sign."

Proportional representative (PR) government was another topic that we agreed on. Mr. Orchard advocates changes to our antiquated and unjust electoral system - a system that effectively filters out the social conscience of our society and leaves only the agenda of the greedy. (My words).

On the Michael Coren show, Orchard pointed out that net farm income, adjusted for inflation, has fallen by more than 50 per cent of the 1989 figure. In Saskatchewan, where his family has organically farmed for 30 years, the drop is worse, at a 90 per cent decline. Rural life is devastated, and rapidly depopulating. In the recent past, 22,000 farmers gave up farming.

By dropping subsidies, the government has thrown an unbearable burden on the back of the farmer. Meanwhile, our government cannot stop the Americans and Europeans from providing subsidies to their own farmers, which puts the Canadian at a severe economic disadvantage.

Genetically engineered food (GE) was another topic we agreed on. Orchard elaborated on GE canola, and the loss of the European market. The price of this innovation has further reduced profits for the farmer.

Farming practices are another concern, he continues.

"Organic farming-which means production of food without poisonous chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, artificial fertilizers or genetic modification has the advantage of being far less damaging to the environment, the soil and the consumer's health. There should be more government-sponsored research into organic practices, as well as promotion of its benefits."

Orchard advocates caution with GE wheat, in particular. Many countries say they will refuse to buy our wheat if we go the GE route, and yet the government blindly follows the corporate agenda, and forges ahead.

Edmund Burke defined conservatism as a "disposition to preserve and an ability to improve." It appears David Orchard wants to preserve and improve our culture, traditions, and economy and the ecosystems of the planet. In that sense, he is a true conservative.

I was once told the colour green does not normally go well with blue. The Tories are traditionally blue but Mr. Orchard has more than a hint of green in his closet and it suits me just fine.

I strongly recommend David Orchard's book, The Fight for Canada. It is the best Canadian history lesson you will ever read. Mr. Orchard said he would come to Cambridge to speak if we like.

Anyone interested can call me at 621-9908.

Matt Foster is a retired director of poultry research. He investigates and reports on threats to the environment and on Canadian sovereignty.

Contents copyright © 2002, The Cambridge Reporter, www.cambridge-reporter.com

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