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,
"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.