The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon), Thursday, August 17, 2006
Dion welcomes Orchard's endorsement
Support reflective of campaign, says Grit leadership candidate
by Lana Haight
Borden-area farmer David Orchard, a former candidate
for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party
of Canada, is endorsing Stephane Dion as the next
federal Liberal leader.
"Mr. Dion and I certainly see eye-to-eye on a number
of issues," Orchard said at a news conference in
Saskatoon on Wednesday afternoon.
"The discussions that we've had, whether it's on the
environment, whether it's on our place in the world,
whether it's on keeping our country together, we've seen
Dion, a Quebec MP, served for 10 years on the
government side of the House of Commons before being
re-elected in the last federal election, which saw the
Liberals voted out of office. Most of his time in
government was spent as a cabinet minister, first under
Jean Chretien as intergovernmental affairs minister and
then under Paul Martin as environment minister. He
announced in April he would seek the Liberal party
Even before Dion's announcement, he and Orchard had
begun discussions by telephone and in person about the
Liberal leadership race. Orchard says he spoke to
several of the other nine leadership candidates before
deciding to throw his support behind Dion.
"Stephane's commitment to a tolerant, bilingual
country that defends the institutions that have been
built over time -- Canadian institutions that have
helped to make us what we are -- on all these fronts, it
gives me great pleasure to support Stephane," Orchard
told more than 30 people who assembled at the Delta
Bessborough Hotel to hear the announcement.
Dion said he wanted Orchard's support because the
Borden-area organic farmer has a vision for and
commitment to Canada, a commitment to public life and
depth of character. Dion is especially impressed by
Orchard's national profile.
"(I've been) campaigning (for) months now for this
leadership. I have seen people speaking to me about
David in every province I went, telling me, 'We hope
David and you will work together,' " said Dion.
Dion says the Saskatoon news conference was called to
announce Orchard had joined his team, because Orchard's
support is symbolic of the campaign he's running.
"It revolves around rural Canada and urban Canada, a
farmer from Saskatchewan and a professor of university
from Montreal, a big tent in the Liberal party," he said
in an interview.
Orchard had considered joining the leadership race
himself. He says because he is a relatively new Liberal,
he has a lot to learn and decided the best use of his
energy at this time was to support Dion.
Orchard is pleased he's found a home for his ideas.
"When I joined the Liberal party, David Orchard and
his ideas (didn't) stay back on the farm. I'll take
those ideas into the Liberal party, which has asked for
them. The party has a renewal process," said Orchard.
He is adamant he didn't switch to the Liberals from
the PC party because when the Progressive Conservatives
merged with the Canadian Alliance, the PC party no
"I was left party-less. The question becomes then: Do
I choose one of the other parties or do I go back to my
farm and give up on my ideas and all those ideas we
worked so hard (on) for our country? I took a membership
in the Liberal party. I don't think anybody can accuse
me of doing this for advantage. I joined the Liberal
party when it was going down and everyone could see it
was going down last January," he said.
Orchard is considering running as a Liberal candidate
in the next federal election.