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Canadian Press (The Pembroke Daily Observer), December 2, 2006

Orchard ready to spook Dion's opponents

by Nelson Wyatt

MONTREAL -- He's the ghost who has haunted political conventions past. Few have seen him but everyone knows he's here.

And David Orchard, who failed in two runs at the Progressive Conservative leadership but is renowned as an organizational wizard, is hoping his help will be fruitful for Stephane Dion's run at the Liberal leadership.

The fourth-generation farmer from Borden, Sask, and the Quebec-born former environment minister have teamed up at the leadership convention -- a contest everyone agrees will be decided by who has the best ground game. And there are few who can execute the ground game like Orchard.

Chatting up a delegate after the policy, Orchard seemed more a soft-spoken banker than a blackberry-wielding organizational colossus. "I'm working hard to help elect Stephane Dion as the leader," Orchard said.

Orchard first gained notice as a stinging opponent of free trade. Since then his organizational skills have become legendary. He's not resting on his laurels at the Liberal convention and finding him is almost like a political game of Where's Waldo.

He's at the convention centre, says one Dion worker. He's at the hotels. Or maybe down that corridor. Someone sees him coming out of a policy workshop. One worker, when asked where Orchard might be found, furrows his brow.

"He's pretty fluid," says the man in the bright yellow shirt.

Orchard came out of nowhere to place second to Joe Clark in the 1998 Progressive Conservative leadership race. He had the second highest number of delegates to the 2003 Progressive Conservative leadership convention.

He ended up giving them to Peter MacKay and regretting it. Orchard didn't want MacKay to merge the Progressive Conservatives with Stephen Harper's Canadian Alliance. MacKay ignored their hastily scrawled agreement and did it anyway.


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