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Toronto Star, Friday, September 12, 2008

Orchard stands by Dion, urges Green Shift tweak

by Jennifer Graham, Canadian Press

REGINA–A prominent Liberal candidate who once butted heads with Stéphane Dion says the party should make more changes to its Green Shift plan to help farmers and northerners.

David Orchard, running in the vast northern Saskatchewan riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, said he stands by Dion.

But the organic farmer suggested the Green Shift plan would hurt voters in his riding and should be tweaked – again.

"I don't want to see farmers or fishermen or northerners penalized for using fuels for which there is no option, they have no alternative," said Orchard, who won the Liberal nomination in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River last month over former NDP provincial cabinet minister Joan Beatty. He wanted to run for the Liberals in a March by-election, but Dion appointed Beatty, prompting a dispute among northern provincial party members who wanted to nominate their own candidate.

Beatty lost the by-election to Conservative Rob Clarke.

Orchard said controversy hasn't hurt his relationship with Dion. "I would have no trouble working for Stéphane Dion and I'm working hard to help him win power."

Dion massaged his carbon tax plan Sept. 3 to make it more palatable to farmers, loggers, truckers and fishers. Changes include $400 million in emission-reduction credits for farmers and forestry companies and a $250 million "green farms fund" with rebates for farmers who buy technology that cut fuel use and emissions.

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