HalifaxLive.com, March 16, 2003
Does History Really Matter To Tories - Or Is It Just A Game To
Keep The Alliance Away?
by Clinton P. Desveaux
What I find most interesting is that the overwhelming majority
of federal Progressive Conservatives are not aware of their own
history or for whatever reasons have chosen to intentionally ignore
their own history.
One of Saskatchewan’s pioneer organic farmers, David Orchard has
successfully farmed chemical-free wheat for over twenty-five years
and he has chosen to throw his hat in the ring for the Progressive
Conservative leadership for the second time. Many of you will recall
that back in 1998 David Orchard finished second to former Prime
Minister Joe Clark and was even able to force Joe Clark to a second
ballot before eventually losing the leadership to Clark.
If activists and party organizers wish to return the party to its
historical agrarian roots of economic intervention then the answer
Many of today’s free-marketers are not aware of the fact that the
Progressive Conservative’s leading founder and first leader Sir
John A. MacDonald was completely opposed to the notion of free-market
economics. Sir John A was so against the idea of the laissez-faire
ideals that he fought Liberal Alexander Mackenzie’s ideas of north/south
trade via railway links across the border heading towards the United
States in favour of government regulated east/west railway trade.
David Orchard’s ideas of east/west Canadian trade over north/south
Canadian/American trade would seem to fit rather nicely with the
policies struck out by Sir John A. MacDonald.
When Progressive Conservatives defeated Liberal Sir Wilfred Laurier
they did so by fighting a loud and active campaign against free
trade. David Orchard’s views of fighting free trade seem to fit
rather nicely with those of Progressive Conservative Robert Border.
John “The Chief” Diefenbaker formed what was at the time the largest
majority government in Canadian history by standing up and saying
no to Liberal Louis St. Laurent’s North American Oil/Gas pipeline.
Dief the Chief went even further by saying “NO” to a north/south
electric hydropower line with the United States. When today young
Progressive Conservative’s point an angry finger at Pearson/Trudeau
for creating today’s collective welfare state they had better perform
a close examination of their own history first. After all, John
Diefenbaker was the one who created the massive and large federal/provincial
cost share program all in the name of nationalism.
David Orchard seems to come straight from the John Diefenbaker
school politics. In fact rumour and legend has it that David Orchard
attended the same school that John Diefenbaker did and even sat
in the same school desk as the “Chief”.
Robert Stanfield was the Progressive Conservative who fought publicly
for wage and price controls. If any Progressive Conservative thinks
that Wage and Price Controls are a good thing, there must be many
of you who do, because many of you still get angry over the fact
that Trudeau attempted to implement “Stanfield’s idea”; then David
Orchard is your man. David Orchard again has great suspicion of
capitalism and this would seem to fit rather nicely with those of
you still wanting wage and price controls.
Progressive Conservative icon Dalton Camp, wrote about David Orchard
“the complaints from the party's elders on Orchard entering the
leadership race are ill-considered”. According to Dalton Camp Progressive
Conservatives “need to encourage new voices and other opinions”
and Tories “should welcome him aboard; he could make it interesting.”
Dalton Camp went on to say before passing away recently “the Liberals
are no longer Liberal in any historic or traditional sense. They
more resemble neo-conservatives, something Blue Tories are likely
to be but most Conservatives would rather not be.” If Dalton Camp
is correct and I see no reason why he would be wrong then perhaps
David Orchard is the ultimate possible leader to return the Progressive
Conservatives to their original policy stances.
"He came to me and I told him to run," stated Camp, explaining
Orchard is much more than a one-issue candidate and just as qualified
to speak as anyone else running.
"Everyone underestimated him," says Camp. "Few Tories are well
enough read to have ever heard of him."
David Orchard has also pointed out “In 1983, Brian Mulroney strongly
opposed John Crosbie's proposal for free trade with the United States.
He was swept to power. In office, however, Mr. Mulroney reversed
his views, broke the Conservative Party's historic position and
ushered in the North American free-trade agreement. In 1993, the
party was dealt the most dramatic repudiation in a western democracy,
and was reduced to two seats.” Assuming what he says is true, and
Brian Mulroney did in fact reverse himself and by doing so wiped
out the party, then perhaps reversing free-trade as David Orchard
proposes will re-invigorate the Progressive Conservative Party of
In the 2000 federal election Orchard was the PC candidate in the
riding of Prince Albert. Although not elected, he received the highest
percentage of votes of any PC candidate in the province of Saskatchewan.
John Bennett of the Sierra Club has said Mr. Orchard’s policies
mesh with those of his organization. So those of you who support
the Sierra Club may have also found your political candidate of
choice with David Orchard.
Current New Brunswick PC MP and their Environment critic John Herron
has been an outspoken advocate of the Kyoto Accord in Canada. Orchard
has spoken many times on the need to implement Kyoto, so again we
see a real alignment of thought on this issue within the Progressive
Conservatives that David Orchard has lead.
Nova Scotia PC MP and their foreign affairs critic Bill Casey has
publicly distanced himself on a “war with Iraq” which also puts
him in the same league as David Orchard.
We are told all of the time by modern day Tories that the Progressive
Conservatives are not prepared to form a coalition with Stephen
Harper and the Canadian Alliance because of Tory history. If this
is true and history means so much to Progressive Conservatives then
the time has come for them to act on their words and support David
Orchard as leader of the party. David Orchard is the one candidate
who seems to best represent their history from a policy accuracy
point of view.
John Diefenbaker once said, “They always throw stones at the best
apples in the orchard.”