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The Prince Albert Daily Herald, Saturday, August 16, 2008

David Orchard: Liberal of the north

by Lindsay Thorimbert, Herald Staff

Liberal party members of Northern Saskatchewan have made their voices heard - they have asked for David Orchard.

"David Orchard, we're pleased to announce, is the nominee for Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River," said Robert Ermel, executive director of the Saskatchewan Liberal Association.

He added that party policy is not to release the number of votes received by each candidate.

Orchard said he heard of his victory at about 11 p.m. on Thursday. The polls closed at 9 p.m.

"We worked very hard," Orchard said of his campaign. "It was close to 60,000 kilometres on my vehicle from one corner to the other of a big area."

Orchard said he will provide a strong, effective voice for the riding, which "has sometimes been on the receiving end of getting pushed around a bit in this country."

He identified housing, roads, illness and the environment as issues in need of attention in the riding.

"I promised to do my best to help to change some of those conditions," he said.

With the nomination win, he said his affairs will change only a little.

"Now, hopefully I can direct some of my firepower towards Mr. Harper and his policies that I think are hurting our country and our riding," added Orchard.

The Liberal party extended its welcome.

"We are pleased to welcome another nominated candidate into our Liberal team. We look forward to working with Mr. Orchard in preparation for the next election campaign, and we wish him every success," said Joseph Mayer, director of communications for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Orchard beat Joan Beatty for the nomination, who was appointed as the Liberal representative for the riding early this year by Stephane Dion, federal Liberal leader.

An insider told The Canadian Press that Orchard garnered more than twice as many votes as Beatty.

On March 17, Beatty lost the byelection for the riding to Conservative party candidate Rob Clarke.

Mayer said Beatty's loss does not signal a disconnect between the Liberal Party and its members in the riding.

"The appointment was part of the leader's desire to get more women, and she was seen as a very strong candidate based on her record at the provincial level," said Mayer.

Orchard said an appointed candidate didn't sit well with constituents.

"The people of the riding wanted to participate in a democratic process," said Orchard. "I think they reacted quite strongly to this idea of something being imposed on them.

"The people in the north, I think, were looking for something different.

"Something that connects to them not only democratically, but really is serious about the issues that they're facing."

Orchard, an organic farmer who twice ran for the leadership of the now-defunct Progressive Conservatives, has long been an outspoken activist on environmental, free-trade, aboriginal and agriculture issues.

He doesn't intend to pull his punches now just because he's a candidate.

"I think the essence of a vibrant, national party is you would have to encompass a wide range of views. Probably one of the worst things (is) a monolithic party where everybody stands up and nods at the same time and says the same things,' he said.

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