Friday, August 15, 2008

David Orchard to Give it the Old College Try -- Again

Orchard reclaims Saskatchewan nomination

Breaking news out of Ottawa is that David Orchard -- the man previously spurned by Stephane Dion in the recent by-election in Saskatchewan -- has been nominated again in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River riding of Saskatchewan.

His Dion-mandated replacement in that by-election, Joan Beatty, lost the riding to Conservative Rob Clarke.

"Many of the people from the highest reaches of the party told me that they felt they'd made a mistake and they wanted to make it right. If they want to win the riding, I don't think they could've gone any other way," Orchard announced.

While some may wonder precisely how Orchard -- an invidual who made perhaps his most prominent stand in politics against Free Trade can comfortably find a home in a generally pro-Free Trade party.

The answer turns out to be fairly simple: Orchard plans to make a little noise within the party on such topics.

"I think the essence of a vibrant, national party is you would have to encompass a wide range of views. Probably one of the worst things [is] a monolithic party where everybody stands up and nods at the same time and says the same things," Orchard insists.

Orchard also claims he wants to help take the Liberal party in a more populist direction. "I strongly believe that we have to open up the party to the ordinary people, the grassroots, and we have to touch a chord if we're going to be effective as a national party," he said.

Of course, one also remembers that Orchard's other prominent political stand was fighting tooth and nail to prevent a merger with the Canadian Alliance, a populist party.

Unsurprisingly, Orchard may be in favour of populism -- just not with what he deems to be the wrong people.

In the upcoming election -- when it finally arrives -- Orchard's mission will be simple: end Ralph Goodale's tenure as the only Liberal MP in the province by adding another tally in his party's ledger.

His work will be cut out for him. In Rob Clarke, Orchard is confronting an individual elected with more than 50% of the vote in a riding nestled in the heart of a province that seems to be on the verge of joining Alberta as Conservative territory.

Of course, that was only in a by-election, and one will have to wait to see what will happen in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River when the real deal -- a federal general election -- finally arrives.

Until then, one has to hope that Orchard won't get too comfortable in his role as the Liberal candidate there -- it seems he can't quite trust Stephane Dion not to intercede.

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