David Orchard
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New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, 10 February, 2003

Grassroots hopeful is campaigning in town

David Orchard, who is taking a second run at the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, is speaking at two Saint John area high schools today and twice at UNB on Tuesday.

An organic grain farmer from Saskatchewan, he is also the author of a best selling book, The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. A critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mr. Orchard is not against trade but argues the current treaty sets the rules in favour of the Americans.

"We're seeing our country losing its identity in a significant way," he said. "The current government is moving us into what they call deeper and deeper integration with the United States."

The Americans have the Jones Act that requires U.S. shippers to use vessels built in their own country. Mr. Orchard claims a similar law in Canada would revive shipyards.

"Instead we allow our shipping magnates like Paul Martin to run their fleets under foreign flags of convenience to even avoid taxes in this country."

Mr. Orchard believes there is support among former Alliance voters for his view that Canadian sovereignty needs to be protected. He also feels the Bloc Quebecois is losing support after it came out in favour of adopting U.S. currency.

"I am finding people who have voted Bloc and Alliance who are interested in the ideas I am putting forward," he said.

Historically, Mr Orchard said, the Progressive Conservative Party has fought to maintain the sovereignty of Canada against attempts by the U.S. to take over.

"I think we have lost our way on that issue."

Mr. Orchard is calling for a review of how NAFTA has affected Canada's sovereignty and standard of living. He said Canada can pull out of the agreement with six months' notice or renegotiate parts of the agreement. He is not opposed to leaving tariffs at zero but says that isn't what is happening.

"Our trade today is less free than when we signed these agreements.

For example, softwood lumber was never subjected to duties from the founding of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade in 1948 up to 1998. But now, under NAFTA, there is a 27 per cent tariff on softwood exports.

Agriculture has also suffered, with nearly $200 billion of U.S. subsidies targeting almost every agricultural product grown in Canada, he said.

"We once took an independent position on the world stage and now we are more and more following what our neighbours would like to have us do," he said.

He is speaking today at Kennebecasis Valley High auditorium at 10 a.m., and Saint John High auditorium at 1:30 p.m. On Tuesday he will be at Hazen Hall at UNBSJ at 1:30 p.m. and the law school in Fredericton at 7 p.m.

The public is welcome.

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