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The Edmonton Sun, Saturday, March 19, 2005

What goes around comes around, says former Progressive Conservative David Orchard

By Ajay Bhardwaj

Orchard, who twice ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party, had a deal with MP Peter MacKay to prevent the merger of the PCs and the Canadian Alliance in 2003. The deal fell apart when MacKay agreed to merge the parties.

A furious MacKay lashed out Thursday at Ottawa-area MP Scott Reid for bringing forward a constitutional amendment that would give larger ridings more delegates than smaller ridings at conventions. The idea was a deal-breaker when the parties were discussing merging.

"I fought to keep all along the Progressive Conservative party of Canada and build it up," said Orchard from Montreal, where he was refused entry as a member-observer in the Conservative party meeting.

"I ran on that platform. I stuck with it. I signed an agreement with him, shook hands with him, looked him in the eye and he said 'you won't have to worry about me reneging on this.' Then he went ahead and the rest is history.

"I think what happened was they broke an agreement. They broke a pledge that he had made to the membership and maybe some of that is coming back to haunt him. I don't know."

But Edmonton-Leduc MP James Rajotte said while MacKay and Orchard had an agreement in principle, party members were free to amend the constitution and policies.

"I think what Peter did was for the good of the country, (because of) the fact that we needed to merge these two parties in order to provide a real alternative for Canadians," Rajotte said.

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