The Globe and Mail, July 5, 2002
Orchard to back Clark at Tory convention
By Brian Laghi, Ottawa
David Orchard, the free-trade critic and former federal Tory leadership
candidate, privately told Joe Clark that he'll support him next
month when the party rules on Mr. Clark's performance.
Mr. Orchard made the commitment at a meeting two weeks ago. Some
Tories have expressed concern that Mr. Orchard still wants the job
he lost to Mr. Clark in 1998.
From 200 to 300 of Mr. Orchard's supporters plan to attend the
party's convention in Edmonton, leaving some Conservatives wondering
whether Mr. Orchard planned to use his troops to vote against Mr.
Clark to try to force a leadership convention.
In an interview, Mr. Orchard confirmed that he called Mr. Clark
two weeks ago to set up a meeting. where he assured the leader of
"Mr. Clark is providing stable, proven leadership," Mr. Orchard
said. "It's exactly what the party needs. I don't think this is
the time to be forcing the party through a divisive leadership review,
and so I'll be voting accordingly."
Mr. Orchard would not say how his supporters would vote. He confirmed
that there would be 200 to 300 of them at the convention, or 15
to 20 per cent of the 1,250 delegates the Tories expect.
Many members of the Tory rank and file have said that Mr. Orchard
is not a true progressive conservative because of his criticism
of free trade, a deal put together by former prime minister Brian
Mulroney. Some are distrustful of his motives and have expressed
concern that he wants to take over the party.
Mr. Orchard's troops intend to flex their muscles at the convention
by opposing any movement to cooperate with the Canadian Alliance
in the next election. The party also plans to discuss the issue
of Canadian sovereignty, a key policy matter for Mr. Orchard.
"I think most Canadians want to see our country become [stronger]
on the world stage, rather than become weaker in terms of our own
independent voice," he said.
Rick Perkins, a senior Tory who wants the rift healed within the
small-c conservative movement, said Mr. orchard probably opposes
Tory co-operation within the Alliance because it would dilute Mr.
Orchard's influence within his party.
Mr. Perkins also argued that Mr. Orchard's delegates could easily
tip the scales in favour of those who want to maintain a party policy
requiring the Tories to run candidates in all federal ridings, thereby
crushing any possibility of Alliance-Tory candidates in selected
"David Orchard is a party member, and the party establishment
has accepted him," Mr. Perkins said.
"Do I agree with anything he says? No."
Marjaleena Repo, an Orchard supporter and president of a PC riding
association in Saskatchewan said that Orchard supporters and many
other party members don't want the Tories to join with the Alliance
because it would position the Tory party closer to the United States.
The Liberals have become too cozy with that country, she said, and
Canada needs a party that will stand up for this country.
"It would be horrible," Ms. Repo said of a merger. "We would have
two continentalist parties left in this country."