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Imprint (University of Waterloo student paper), March 4, 2005

Canadian identity at forefront

David Orchard visits UW to speak on upholding Canada's economy
By Rebecca Temmer - Imprint staff

Like most Canadians, David Orchard doesn't want to see Canada become the fifty-first state. The prominent Canadian politician is currently touring southern Ontario and stopped at UW on Tuesday evening to speak to students and community members.

Orchard is probably best known for his campaign in May 2003 for the federal Progressive Conservative Party leadership. During the race, he agreed to support his competitor Peter MacKay on the condition that the PC party would not merge with the Canadian Alliance Party (if MacKay won). MacKay went on to clinch the leadership and by October had reneged on the agreement — officially terminating the party Sir John A. McDonald belonged to at the time of Confederation.

Having given up on the new Canadian Conservative Party, David is now a self-proclaimed political "orphan" and is back to where he started in politics — trying to ensure that Canada remains a sovereign nation.

Orchard was invited to speak at the university by the newly formed UW Green Party Club.

"David's message is very compatible with the Green Party message," said Darcy Higgins, the club's president. Several local Green Party enthusiasts even extended an invitation for David to join their party but he declined, saying he's still shopping around.

It was 1985 when Orchard first ventured off his organic farm in Borden, Saskatchewan to begin the organization Citizens Concerned about Free Trade, responding to the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. After the FTA came the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he is currently campaigning against and has been for the past 11 years.

Orchard started off the evening by giving the crowd a quick history lesson that was full of anecdotes — apparently Canadian railway tracks are 10 inches wider than American tracks so that US troop cars couldn't use them to invade our country.

Most of Orchard's presentation, however, can be summed up by the title of his new national bestseller The Fight for Canada: Four centuries of resistance to American expansionism. "Certainly we need trade with the country south of us," he said. "I just don't want to become a part of that country."

The talk moved to an explanation of his perspective on what free trade has done to Canada and how he would go about fixing it. Orchard's solutions ranged from developing a domestic film and movie industry to reintroducing shipbuilding to our Maritime provinces to supporting organic agriculture.

Orchard spent the second hour entertaining questions and comments from the audience in the comfortably filled lecture hall. One student challenged Orchard's concerns over the removal of the foreign investment cap for RRSPs in the new federal budget, citing a statistic he'd read in a newspaper recently.

This sparked an interesting round of debate on the control of the conventional media by large corporate interests and the role of independent media in informing the public.

A number of people were also concerned with the plight of the Canadian farming community, which Orchard spoke passionately about, citing farming as his "real" job.

At the end of the night, Orchard stayed for more than an hour after the lecture to talk to audience members and sign books.

To learn more about David Orchard and his campaign to save Canada check out his website at www.davidorchard.com


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