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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 is yes!

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 Canada?

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.”

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