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WHOLifE Journal, January/February, 2003

David Orchard - an organic farmer offers hope for Canadians

2003 Progressive Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate

By Elmer Laird

Fifty-two-year-old David Orchard is a long time certified organic farmer, writer, author, environmentalist and social activist from Borden, Saskatchewan. He has been an organic farmer for 27 years. He is now campaigning vigorously for the national leadership of the Progressive Conservative party. He wants to occupy the chair behind the Prime Minister's desk following the next election. He came in second in the 1998 leadership campaign, when Joe Clark won. However, Clark isn't running this time.

Orchard's main objective is to protect the sovereignty of Canada and Canadians. Canadians' rights and freedoms are rapidly being sacrificed to transnational corporations in our global village.

Orchard is very aware of our deteriorating environment and its effect on the health of Canadians. Dr. Hans Peterson, executive director of the Safe Drinking Water Foundation, Saskatoon, says that 23% of all illnesses in Canada are caused by our water compared to only 2.5% in Holland. Unfortunately, there are no statistics on pollution in food.

Here in Saskatchewan we have the highest rate of breast and cervical cancer and the highest rate of prostate cancer in Canada. We use one third of the pesticides used in Canada. Pesticides are responsible for a lot of the cancer cases.

Orchard and other certified organic farmers are very aware of the effects of pesticides on our health. All are working for a clean environment. The year 2000 report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development chaired by long time federal MP Charles Caccia (Toronto) recommends that all chemical farmers be subsidized to switch to certified organic production.

Adopting the environmental report will no doubt be one of the first agricultural policy decisions Orchard will make when he becomes Prime Minister. Then we can start cleaning up both our polluted food and water resources. Orchard is also very aware of the deterioration of our Health Protection Branch and will take immediate steps to improve it.

Certified organic farmers have been trying for 15 years to obtain national certification standards for their organic products but have been defeated by the all-powerful chemical lobby. They will be delighted to have one of their own as prime minister. So will Canadian consumers who are looking for certified organic food as well as all Canadians interested in upgrading their diets and are worried about the future environment in which their children and grandchildren will have to live.

Transnational drug and chemical companies have us on a treadmill. These companies sell farmers large volumes of toxic pesticides and herbicides that pollute our water, food and environment, while they sell us large volumes of drugs in a vain attempt to make us "well," when we become ill from the chemical pollution.

Prior to his campaign four years ago, Orchard travelled extensively on both sides of the border opposing the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment). It went by the wayside. However, today he is concerned about the FTAA (Free Trade Agreement of America) which will also give foreign corporations control of our sovereignty.

David Orchard is one of four boys. He was born and raised on the Borden family farm. They attended a one-room country school, Halcyonia (the name of the mythical bird), for the first eight years of their education. (Former prime minister John G. Diefenbaker attended the same rural school a few years earlier.) Currently, Orchard farms over 2,000 acres of wheat, oats and alfalfa. He leaves roughly 25% of his acreage in natural forest and prairie habitat.

Orchard is knowledgeable in the French language and is able to hold a news conference or address a meeting in French. He is a frequent media guest and the author of an intensely readable and gracefully written bestseller, The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism (Stoddard, 1993). The book has recently been updated with five new chapters and is published in both English and French (Hors des griffes de l’aigle: quatre siècles de résistance canadienne à l’expansionnisme américain, Robert Davies, 1998).

Orchard surprised political observers in 1998 when he launched his leadership campaign to become leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. After all, wasn't he the man who fought passionately against Brian Mulroney's Conservatives, the party that brought us the free trade agreements and The Plant Breeders Rights Act?

Now he sees an opportunity and a need for the Progressive Conservative party to become really conservative.

In university, Orchard read Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring, and vowed to do what he could to stop the widespread environmental destruction of our planet. In the mid-1970s Orchard and his brothers turned the farm into an organic operation. In the mid-1980s he co-founded Citizens Concerned About Free Trade and embarked on a crusade to inform Canadians of the dangers in free trade agreements.

It was an avid knowledge of history that brought Orchard to the federal Conservative party. He argues that for more than 100 years Conservatives stood against the so-called free trade.

"It was Conservatives," Orchard says, "who traditionally advocated a strong and independent Canadian-controlled economy."

In 1891 John A. Macdonald referred to free trade with the US as "treason," because it meant giving control of our nation to a foreign power. In 1911, Robert Borden, another Conservative leader, defeated a proposal for free trade with the US and Brian Mulroney himself said in 1983 that free trade was a danger to Canadian sovereignty.

However, when in power, Mulroney reversed his views and a century of Conservative party history when he signed a sweeping agreement that is turning Canada into a satellite of the U.S.

Orchard believes the Mulroney years were an aberration and intends to return the party to its foundations.

The Conservative party - and Canada - can survive only if it leaves behind the rush to globalization, which means Americanization.


The Progressive Conservative party, prior to the 1998 leadership campaign, opened its campaign to a direct vote of all members. Interested Canadians can take out an adult membership for $10 ($5 for youth 14-25 years). The leadership vote will be held from February 27 - April 10, 2003. All members will be able to vote in their own constituency for both the leader and delegates to the convention provided they are members fourteen days before the meeting.

For more information contact: David Orchard Campaign for Canada, P.O. Box 1983, Saskatoon, SK, S7K 3S5. Telephone in Saskatoon: (306) 664-8443; toll free: 1-877-WE STAND (937-8263); fax: (306) 244-3790; e-mail: davidorchard@sasktel.net; Web site: www.davidorchard.com.

After 55 years of farming, Elmer Laird is now retired and president of the Back to the Farm Research Foundation and manager of the foundation’s organic research and demonstration farm near Davidson, Sask. This article was published in WHOLifE Journal, January/February 2003, a magazine dedicated to healthy living. Web site: www.wholife.com

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