See Marjaleena Repo's response, "On
being yaffied" and an edited version, published in the Vancouver Sun,
Friday, January 25, 2008, "Shafting by
Yaffe based on factoids, canards"
Vancouver Sun, Friday, January 11, 2008
Maverick Orchard finds a new party to tangle with
by Barbara Yaffe
Would-be politician David Orchard would most
certainly qualify for the Rodney Dangerfield Award, if
The Saskatchewan farmer, formerly unable to get any
respect as a Progressive Conservative, switched in 2006
to the Liberals. Now, he's encountering a decided lack
of respect in those quarters, too.
It may be time to coin a new, made-in-Canada verb: to
be orcharded. The word would be ideal to describe the
shafting of an individual.
Orchard's story is rather compelling and says
something about the cruel game that politics can be.
The 57-year-old organic produce businessman became a
national figure in 1998 when he took his first run at
the Progressive Conservative party leadership. He lost,
and lost again in the 2003 leadership race.
In the second contest, he reinforced his reputation
as a superb organizer. In return for handing over his
delegates to leadership contender Peter MacKay — now
defence minister in the Harper government — he struck a
deal to ensure the party would not unite with the
MacKay later reneged on the pact, pragmatically
entering into a merger agreement with then-Alliance
leader Stephen Harper.
Orchard promptly stood before every microphone he
could find to declare he'd been betrayed, a fuss that
resulted in the political wounding of MacKay. Orchard
proceeded to launch several lawsuits against his party.
In 2005 the Conservatives revoked Orchard's party
membership. No big surprise given that Orchard had
labelled the new partisan force "an abomination, sired
in betrayal and born out of deception."
A year later Orchard resurfaced as a Liberal and once
again became a political player by virtue of his
organizational talents. At the Grit leadership
convention he threw his delegates to Stephane Dion and
thereby became instrumental in Dion's victory.
While Orchard has never won a seat for himself
provincially or federally, on becoming a Liberal he
declared his intention to run for his new party in a
northern Saskatchewan riding.
But lo, Orchard has now been newly stiffed. Last
week, Dion announced a personal pick as the Liberal
candidate in the riding where Orchard had been eagerly
Dion declared that recently elected provincial NDPer,
Joan Beatty, will run for the federal Liberals in a
March 17 byelection, called to fill
Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, a seat that had
been vacated by a Liberal.
Now, people may question why Dion, whose own
popularity is in question, would court a fuss in a
After all, the backstabbing of Orchard could leave
Dion looking disloyal, given that the wannabe candidate
helped crown him. Worse, the Liberal leader could be
accused of interfering in a local nomination contest —
never a popular move.
Dion would doubtless argue that he's acting in his
party's best interest, that Orchard just isn't a
comfortable fit for the Liberals.
Indeed he is not, just as he was not a good fit in
his former party. While political organizations should
be big-tent structures welcoming any and all comers,
Orchard truly is a political oddball.
Articulate, bilingual and adept at political
organization, he also happens to be a social
conservative and is vigorously opposed to the Canada-U.S.
free trade agreement. For that matter, he's critical of
any Canadian alignment with the U.S.
Beatty, meanwhile, is an aboriginal woman in a
largely aboriginal riding, who has proven herself
And her appointment is in keeping with Dion's pledge
to ensure that a strong contingent of women will be
running for the party in the next election.
But this little melodrama may not end nicely. Orchard
won't go down without a fight. And, as Conservatives
know too well, he knows how to make himself a nuisance.
Accordingly, his supporters are banding together to
organize "an emergency meeting" on Saturday, to pick
their own Liberal candidate.
Orchard backers declared this week in a news release
that the Liberals are imposing "an Indian Act mentality
[that is] undemocratic and which insults us."
If there's a lesson in all this, it's surely that
loyalty in politics is often in short supply; anyone who
jumps into the fray runs a risk of getting orcharded.