The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) and Regina Leader-Post, Thursday, May 22,
Orchard to seek Grit nomination
By James Wood
A bruising battle that split the federal Liberal
party in northern Saskatchewan earlier this year hasn't
deterred David Orchard from throwing his hat in the ring
The longtime anti-free trade activist who twice vied
for the leadership of the old federal Progressive
Conservative party said Wednesday he would again seek
the Liberal nomination in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill
Orchard had sought the party's nod for the byelection
held in March in the sprawling northern riding but was
sideswiped when Liberal Leader Stephane Dion appointed
former NDP cabinet minister Joan Beatty, who ultimately
lost to Conservative Rob Clarke.
"When I made that decision to join the Liberals I did
so in a serious way. There are good times and there are
bad times. I'm a farmer, you have good years, you have
bad years, but you won't get too far if you don't stick
with things so that's what I've done," Orchard said in
Beatty's appointment infuriated some northern
Liberals who backed Orchard and led to the formation of
a rival riding association. Some observers believe the
infighting aided the defeat of the Liberals, who had
narrowly won the riding with Gary Merasty in the 2006
Orchard, who was a key Saskatchewan supporter of Dion
in the 2006 Liberal leadership race, said he had not
discussed running again with Dion directly but had
talked it over with people in the leader's office and
other members of the party hierarchy.
"I've been assured at the various different levels
that this is going to be an open nomination process so I
was again very much encouraged to put my name forward,"
Dion was not available for comment Wednesday.
Senator David Smith, national co-chair of the Liberal
campaign, said unusual circumstances, such as the timing
of the byelection, led to Beatty's appointment and
normal nominating procedures would be followed this
"We wouldn't play favourites. It's a level playing
field from our perspective," he said from Toronto.
"What's that old song . . . accentuate the positive,
eliminate the negative, so let's move on. What happened
Beatty indicated after her loss she would seek the
nomination again. John Dorion, who had planned to
contest the nomination earlier this year, is another
prospective candidate. Nomination meetings are expected
to be held in June.
Clarke beat Beatty by 1,700 votes, but Liberals
expressed confidence they can still be competitive in
Saskatchewan Liberal Association executive director
Robert Ermel said the party still held the lead in areas
where it has been traditionally strong, but poor turnout
hurt the party.