Regina Leader-Post, January 29, 2003
Orchard attracts unlikely support
by Barb Pacholik
A former head of the NDP youth wing in Saskatchewan and current
president of the New Green Alliance is joining the federal Tory
party after hearing a speech by leadership hopeful David Orchard.
Victor Lau not only paid his $10 to take out a membership in the
Conservative party, but left Tuesdayís speech at the Regina Inn
with a handful of forms to encourage his friends to do the same.
He admitted he may have to tell them to "turn a blind eye to
the actual party logo." Despite the name of the party Orchard
hopes to head, Lau likes what the left-leaning, Borden-area organic
farmer has to say about protecting Canadian sovereignty from the
U.S., ending the free trade agreement, and preserving the environment.
"The stakes have become so much higher," he said.
Lau said all the mainstream parties have been hijacked by wealthy
interest groups, and he hopes the majority of Canadians will say
itís time to seek "real democracy," which Orchard is offering.
"Itís about moving towards something thatís bold and vibrant,"
he said. Orchard is banking on people like Lau to win the Tory leadership
and replace Joe Clark, to whom he finished a distant second in the
1998 leadership race. Heís hoping that by selling memberships to
people who will support his bid for the leadership, heíll get more
of his delegates to the June 1 convention in Toronto where the new
leader will be chosen. Since each riding can send up to 10 delegates,
Orchard is working on a strategy to focus his efforts on some of
the weaker ridings that currently have few members. Some of those
ridings are in Quebec, and Orchard is one of the few leadership
hopefuls who can speak French. Itís that kind of strategy thatís
causing concern among some of the party faithful who fear heís trying
to hijack the federal Conservatives. When Orchard last took a run
at the Tory leadership, Clark labelled him a "tourist"
in the national party.
But Orchard told those gathered heís in the race "because
Iím concerned about whatís happening to my country." "The
Liberals are dismantling the institutions that were built to serve
the people of this country," he said. He fears the Liberals
are taking the country closer into the arms of the United States
and wondered if the next step is to bring down the borders and embrace
a common currency.
Orchard said heís about conserving Canada as a sovereign nation
and believes that notion can rejuvenate the party and return the
Tories - currently in fifth place in the House of Commons - to power.
Orchard, who campaigned against the free trade agreement in the
1980s, said heís not against trade, but wants it done under the
rules that govern world trade. "Not only did we not get free
trade, we really unleashed American protectionism," he said.