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Prince Albert Grand Council Tribune, November 2007

David Orchard Wants Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River Nomination

by Ron Merasty, Editor

David Orchard, 57, a Saskatchewan farmer originally from Borden, along the South Saskatchewan River west of Saskatoon, is one of the best-known Canadians. He has been in the public spotlight for much of the past 20 years. Orchard is contesting the Liberal nomination for Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, and wants to become its Member of Parliament. Orchard says that he wants to become the representative of Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River so that he will stem the Americanization of Canada by Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

Orchard grew up at Borden, but his grandfather farmed in the Choiceland area, where he currently farms 2000 acres. So he's got a connection to the constituency.

Orchard completed his high school in Borden, Saskatchewan, and then went on to study first in the Faculty of Arts and Science, and then Law, at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. After completing his first year of law, he undertook a working tour of a dozen countries across the globe, before taking over the family farm. Constitutional law professor, Howard McConnell, later wrote of his former student: "Although Orchard decided not to pursue further law studies, he finished easily in the top ten percent of his first year class."

Orchard later studied French at Laval University's immersion programme in Quebec City.

No ordinary farmer, Orchard is practitioner of the organic agriculture movement, and has raised his wheat, oats, barley, canola and alfalfa crops without herbicides, pesticides, chemicals or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) since 1975.

In 1985, Orchard burst into the public spotlight as a founder of Citizens Concerned About Free Trade (CCAFT), concerned about the effects on Canadian sovereignty of the free trade agreements with the U.S. (FTA and later NAFTA). A nationwide mobilization led by CCAFT convinced the Canadian Senate to block the proposed FTA in 1988, forcing a general election on the issue, in which a majority of Canadians cast their ballots for parties opposed to the FTA. But, Brian Mulroney won the election, nonetheless.

In 1993, he authored the best-selling book, The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism (Stoddart, 1993; 2nd ed. Robert Davies, 1999). The late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, then commenting on the pre-publication manuscript, called it, "a masterful treatment of the history of Canada."

David Orchard actively campaigned against the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords, because of what he referred to as their "mortal weakening of the national government."

He has opposed the burial of nuclear waste on Canadian soil and to the clear cutting of our forests. He has an active commitment to clean air, food and water.

David Orchard advocates a Canadian foreign policy designed to serve Canada's interests. A strong defender of international law, he has opposed the bombing and occupation of Iraq, the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and of Afghanistan in 2001. He sees these actions as violations of international law and the U.N. Charter. He is a proponent of rebuilding Canada's military to be an effective protector of our territorial integrity and of keeping our armed forces under Canadian command.

He says he doesn't know why Canadian soldiers are in Afghanistan and says that there has never been an explanation to the public as to why Canadians are there, other than to serve the ambitions of United States President George W. Bush.

In 1998, David Orchard ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, placing second to Joe Clark. He says that the Progressive Conservative party is the only other political party that he has been affiliated with.

In the 2000 federal election he was the PC candidate in the riding of Prince Albert. In 2003, Orchard ran again for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party (stressing the word "Progressive") and went in to the leadership convention with the second highest number of delegates. After receiving a signed agreement from Peter MacKay stating that if he became the leader, he would uphold the PC Party constitution and not merge the party with the Canadian Alliance or run joint candidates with that party, undertake a review of NAFTA, and make environmental protection, sustainable agriculture, forestry and increased rail transportation policy priorities, Orchard advised his delegates to vote for MacKay on the final ballot thereby ensuring MacKay's victory. When MacKay went back on his word and ultimately merged with the Reform Party*, Orchard eventually left the conservative movement.

Following his split with the Reform Conservatives, Orchard says he was courted by the other political parties, but concluded that the one best situated to defeat the Conservatives and form a government in Canada was the Liberal Party.

In 2006 Orchard was an organizer within the Liberal Party of Canada, campaigning on behalf of present leader Stéphane Dion, taking over 130 delegates to the leadership convention in Montreal.

People in northern communities of the constituency are receiving him well, he said, and has sold a fair number of memberships. When the Tribune talked to him, he was in Canoe Lake enroute to Meadow Lake for a speaking engagement.

Orchard spoke disapprovingly of Stephen Harper's adviser, confidante and former national campaign chair Ð U.S.-born political science professor at the University of Calgary, Tom Flanagan. Orchard says Flanagan wrote the incendiary book "First Nations: Second Thoughts" in 2000. Orchard criticizes Flanagan's views in that book, among other things, for his positions "that indigenous peoples are less civilized than Europeans, and that indigenous peoples are like any other immigrants, only that they were here before Europeans after crossing the Bering Strait, and that Aboriginal rights are a hoax."

If Flanagan thinks this way, Orchard says that Harper and the rest of the Conservatives must also think the same way.

Orchard is another potential representative that constituency Liberals may consider to be one of their candidates.

* should be the Canadian-Alliance

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