Conservative Party owes Orchard more than $70,000
Ex-leadership candidate alleges party being vindictive
By Daniel Jungwirth
Two and a half years after the Progressive
Conservative leadership race, the Conservative Party of
Canada has yet to pay David Orchard more than $70,000.
About $55,000 of that is owed to the Borden-area farmer
from donations to his leadership campaign.
"These were donations given to me, made out to my
campaign and seized, I don't have them," said Orchard.
"And they're now in the coffers of a completely
different party, a party whose formation I opposed."
Orchard was referring to the 2003 merger uniting the
Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives.
Another $15,000 is from the refundable portion of a
deposit all candidates had to pay, which all candidates
received back except Orchard.
"All I can assume is that they're trying to crush me
or force me under. I can't see anything else other than
it being vindictive because I opposed the merger, which
I would think in a democracy every person has the right
to do," he said.
When contacted last week, a Conservative Party
spokesperson said they had nothing to say on the issue.
Leadership candidates could submit donations up to
the end of 2003 to head office in order for a tax
receipt to be issued. These donations, which stopped
coming to Orchard that December, were then supposed to
be returned to candidates within 48 hours.
"(Donations) would have been put towards all the
bills and debt that you have in running a campaign,"
Orchard received interim finances from people coming
forward with bridge loans as he waited for the donations
to be returned.
Finally in February, 2004, Orchard launched a lawsuit
against the Conservative Party of Canada, asking
$500,000 for the amount owed, interest and punitive
In the required mediation before trial, the party
claimed Orchard hadn't followed procedure and rules. It
was only after Orchard produced a message from the
party's chief electoral officer* stating everything was
in order that they began to offer a settlement. (*Note:
this should read chief financial officer.)
"When they offered the $72,000, I said let's move on,
it's been two years," he said.
That was last December. The cheque that was to be
written before Christmas turned into a release from
further lawsuits that came in February of this year.
"I may or may not sue Peter MacKay, that has nothing
to do with this at all," he said.
"What bothers me at this point is that they feel they
can strip away my legal rights, my civil rights, my
constitutional rights using my own money to blackmail me
In March, Ontario Superior Court Justice Faye McWatt
decided the release "may be somewhat overreaching."
With the latest court date Wednesday postponed until
Dec. 5, Orchard and the Conservative Party have once
again come to a stalemate.
Tom Shore contributed to Orchard's leadership
campaign and said the money needs to be returned.
"I think they're being vindictive," said the Carrot
River resident. "I don't think politics should be run
like that. This is a party that promised us different.
It's the same."
If this is how the party is acting now, Shore
questioned how the Conservative Party will act as
Orchard had similar thoughts.
"What gets me is, we have a new party talking about
ethics, talking about honesty. Well they've grabbed
$72,000 made in good faith."
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2005