Western Producer, January 30, 2003
Orchard only farmer in PC leadership race
by Barry Wilson (Ottawa bureau)
When Saskatchewan organic farmer and anti-free trade campaigner
David Orchard joined the race for the Progressive Conservative party
leadership last week, he made the farm economy something of a poster
child for his platform.
The North American free trade deal is not working, he argued.
The persistent and regularly unsuccessful American attacks on the
Canadian Wheat Board are proof of that.
Liberal cutbacks on spending and aggressive deregulation are wrong.
Torn-up rail lines, abandoned grain elevators and rural depopulation
are proof of that.
Liberal environmental policies are deficient. The federal support
for genetically modified crops and lack of support for organic production
are proof of that, said the only farmer in the PC leadership race.
He also railed against Liberal strategies at World Trade Organization
Orchard, trying for the second time to win the PC leadership,
told reporters in Ottawa that his policies, condemned by other leadership
candidates as being too left wing and nationalist for modern Conservatives,
were in fact part of mainstream Tory thinking before former prime
minister Brian Mulroney.
Most leaders of the party back to John A. Macdonald "had
a vision of a great nation and not a satellite power," he said.
Nova Scotia MP Peter Mackay and Calgary lawyer Jim Prentice also
have joined the race to replace leader Joe Clark at a convention
in late May. Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison is expected to join the
race to lead the fifth place party in the House of Commons.
Orchard is the only PC leadership candidate so far with a detailed
He argues against approval of more GM crop varieties, a "backing
away" from existing GM canola, soybean, corn and potato varieties,
more federal support for organic agriculture and more international
emphasis on Canadian organic produce.
He also argues that Canada should increase domestic farm supports
and use that as a bargaining tool at the WTO negotiation.
"Instead of whining about our competitors, Canada should
simply restore its farm support with the pledge to our competitors
and trade partners that our support will be phased out at such a
time as and in lock step with reciprocal reductions on their part,"
Orchard says in his farm and trade policy.
At his campaign launch news conference, he said Canada should
abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement in favour of rules
under the WTO.
But at WTO talks, Canada must become more aggressive, he said.
Despite complaints by his critics that he is not a genuine Conservative
and is trying to hijack the PC party with his anti-free trade organization,
Orchard came second in the 1998 PC leadership race.
He ran as a Tory in Prince Albert in 2000 and fared poorly but
won more votes than any other PC candidate in Saskatchewan.