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
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
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: email@example.com; 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