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Globe and Mail, October 5, 2006

Mr. Orchard wronged

by Christopher Thomas

Victoria -- Jeffrey Simpson's sketch of David Orchard as a "flaky, marginal political figure" who is "hardly the kind of ally" Liberal leadership contender Stéphane Dion should be courting certainly differs from my reading of both men (Handicaps Are Hobbling All The Liberal Candidates -- Oct. 3).

Mr. Orchard, a forceful Canadian nationalist, is an experienced organic farmer from Saskatchewan who adjusts his speaking schedule to seed and harvest time.

He placed second* in the last Progressive Conservative leadership race; the betrayal of his agreement with Peter MacKay and Mr. MacKay's subsequent surrender to the Canadian Alliance Party remain a scandalous episode in recent Canadian political history that not all of us have forgotten.

And Mr. Orchard's recent move to the Liberals, far from being mere whimsicality, stems from his desire to remain active in pragmatic politics while at the same time refusing to support Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

Canadians are perhaps more attracted to the ethical and intellectual examples men like Mr. Orchard and Mr. Dion present than we are to the sorts of candidates Bay Street, Rosedale and major newspapers and broadcasters think would give Canada sophistication on the world stage.

*David Orchard came into the 2003 PC Party leadership convention with the second largest number of delegates. He finished third and went on to support Peter MacKay after receiving a written promise from MacKay that he would not merge the PC Party with the Canadian Alliance.

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