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Who is David Orchard, and Will He Join the NDP?
10/12/2003

It's time to learn the fates of the disillusioned Progressive Conservatives.

Scott Brison has jumped to the Liberals. Joe Clark is probably headed off to retirement, with a bad taste in his mouth. What will happen to two-time PC leadership candidate David Orchard?

Most readers of this blog probably know more about Orchard than I do. I have never paid him much attention, and peripherally picked up the sense that he was a populist oddball in a party where he didn't entirely fit.

Today, however, reading about Peter McKay's pique at Brison's defection, I couldn't help but find it a little rich. Wasn't McKay the one who recently became leader of the party he's now dissolving by promising king-maker Orchard that that is precisely what he would not do? This led me to read a bit more about Orchard and discover that he considers himself a fighter against globalization and for both Canadian soveriegnty and environmental sustainability.

In my mind, it is entirely reasonable to imagine that a conservative party would stand up for these values. Unfortunately, the new Conservative Party of Canada is expected to represent an amalgam of social conservative values and business-growth-firstism, with some hawkish pro-Americanism thrown in.

Orchard can't join the Liberals as Brison has. Orchard is a rebel and is not at all happy with the way he sees some of the Liberal policy. Surprisingly, it seems like the most fitting place for Orchard to land is with the NDP. The tone they take on issues like sovereignty and trade is closest to Orchard's.

There could be some good balance between urban new dealer Layton and the rural conservative Orchard. On the other hand, what I don't know about Orchard is precisely how significant a player he is. He did do well in a couple leadership races, but how infuential is he/can he be with the general voting population? Maybe he's just good at motivating a small group of active followers.

In any case, I think that the point is that things are getting more interesting around here. No one has yet convinced me that this latest Canadian conservative party is going to be an immediate challenger. But it is beginning to look like the days of permanent Liberal rule aren't quite as certain anymore. See recent posts by James Bow, Ikram Saeed, and Warren Kinsella (scroll to December 8). On the other hand, see also how I am nearly contradicting myself.


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