David Orchard speaking in Tisdale November 21, 2000

Isn't this an opportunity? "Unite the Bright"

Friday December 12, 2003 - by: Jim Love

the means

In my speech to our riding members I stated that we have a real sickness in our Canadian democracy.  Simply put, people don’t believe politicians anymore. So what does their vote matter?  Peter MacKay didn’t start this. I remember Trudeau and wage and price controls, Brian Mulroney on Free Trade, Jean Chretien on the GST and in Ontario, the Liberals on the subject of the Oak Ridge Morraine. This isn’t a case of people who legitimately changed their minds in the face of new information — and no spin doctor could convince me (or anyone else for that matter) that this is anything more than making a promise you don’t intend to keep purely to get votes. Or as we have heard a number of times in this process — the end justifies the means.




Peter didn’t start it. But he knowingly continued this tradition and frankly, refined it to a high art.



part of

In our case, Peter MacKay and his entourage not only made a promise that they didn’t intend to keep, but they compounded the problem. No-one could pretend that the members were given a free and democratic debate on this. Or how about those 20,000 new overnight members. Or the fact that debate was never allowed at any step. You could go on and on but no matter how you “spin” it — this was not a consultative process. And by my count (I could be wrong) it took him about two weeks before his sudden realization that people were crying out for merger. (How he missed this in his months of campaigning was beyond me). Am I the only one who wonders why he quietly stopped the lawsuit to prevent the Alliance from using the word “conservative”?  I know that those who are committed to this merger are already working on the “spin” to “debunk” what I’m saying. But I don’t believe them. Many of you don’t believe them. Heck, I don’t even think they really believe it.




But that’s what “spin” is. You’ve heard it. Those people on TV and radio who say things we all know are not true…and no-one else believes them either. Am I the only one who believes that this just makes people more cynical? Aren’t you dying to hear a politician say what they really think for a change? Instead, we get “spin”.



faith in

Yes “spin” it they will. The more they “spin” — the more they deny, the more politics comes into disrepute. It’s not a victimless crime. When people lose faith in politics and politicians, we are on a slippery slope. As I’ve said before, it’s not the unite the right vote that a party needs — it’s what Scott Brison called the “unite the bright” movement. We need to tap into those people who’ve given up on politics or those who are holding their nose and voting “strategically”




I echo the sentiments of many. I have no party. It left me.  In case anyone wants to “spin” that with the idea that somehow we should come to this new Alliance led party and “moderate” it — just think about that. Could you invite your moderate friends to join the Alliance? Heck, I had trouble getting my friends to join the old Progressive Conservative party. Why? I’m up front with everyone. I came in supporting David Orchard. I want a sovereign country and I have to say that as a small businessman who is dependent on larger businesses, I have to respectfully disagree with those who think it brought us so much prosperity. In fact, I became a small businessman because my employer was sold to a US firm and they moved everything South of the border. I could have gone and I’m not afraid of competing in the US, but I’m a Canadian.  No, in my opinion the advantage was not free trade, but a much lower dollar. In fact, I’ve done a LOT of business in the US and every time I did, I had to break through the protectionist barriers — which are amazing (unless you are an exporter and then you know). In fact, in my profession, there is actually an INS regulation stating that we should get special focus and attention. No, I’m not a drug dealer or a terrorist; I’m in the information technolog



free trade

I know I’m supposed to drink the kool-aid and claim that free trade is wonderful if I want people to like me here. But the fact is — every experience I’d had showed me the precise opposite.



not a

Interestingly, this made me some kind of “radical” in the Progressive Conservative party.  You have to know me to know what a joke that is! Me? A radical? Socially progressive, perhaps. Anti-war, maybe?  But I’m the one all my friends call “the banker” in deference to my hatred of waste and my insistence that government needs to invest wisely — and make tough choices.




Yet in the old Progressive Conservative party, I represent something evil. I know, because I’ve been hounded since I got here. I was elected as a riding president with the unanimous endorsement of the directors I worked with — all of whom knew me and had heard me speak frequently with no “spin”. But once they found out I supported David Orchard I was run out on a rail. They had to recruit a lot of people who hadn’t been to a meeting in years or done anything to support the party to get rid of me. But I had to go.




But I have other “dangerous views”. I happen to believe that we need to protect the environment and that if we did this with passion and drive we could not only pass on to our future generations a wonderful and beautiful country like no other in the world — but we could have a real economic advantage as well. As others ruin their environments and cities, ours would become more attractive. As well, the technologies for renewable energy and eco-friendly industry and agriculture are the industries of the future! 



not power

That made me, in Steven Harper’s words — an “Orchardiste”.   As in “Once the Orchardiste’s have left….”   It is clear that I have no welcome in the new party. Nor is any asked for, by the way. Principles and not power at all costs are what drives me. Winning based on a lie is not a victory to me. You can call that what you want. Old fashioned. Or you can call it what people used to call it. Conservative.




I came to this party because of David Orchard. But I discovered a wealth of others who felt as I did. I honestly believe that this merger occurred for two reasons. First, Harper was worried that he would lose seats in the west to Paul Martin and it made him desperate. Second, those that pulled Peter MacKay’s strings were aghast at the power that the red tories had in the last convention. A lot of Brison’s followers and certainly David’s were going to be a permanent impediment to merger. That’s why we voted 95% against in Edmonton. They couldn’t win a fair fight and the “progressives” were out organizing them. Moreover, Orchard was no longer a villain to one and all. Joe Clark came up and congratulated him at the convention and others were quietly acknowledging that maybe he made some good points. I talked to a lot of MacKay supporters that night who acknowledged that we had some good ideas and that the new regime would be listening. This was no surprise to me, by the way. I followed David at the Edmonton convention (carrying his stuff mostly so he could mingle) and you had to see the high-ranking officials and party members who acknowledged privately what they would never say from a podium.



trade panel

So forgive me the conspiracy theory, but I think there was a reason why Orchard had to be stopped. Why that Free Trade panel was promised but never started.  First, David was smart enough to never stack it with his own supporters. He had some people on it who would be very believable and if they were to challenge the dogma of the ruling group?




I sincerely think that those two things — Harper’s impending losses and the growing centrist coalition of members that was running the party.  I don’t pretend it was only Orchard supporters. There was a growing centrist movement in this party that went beyond David. I mentioned Brison’s people who I found much in common with. I was actually kind of proud of my party that an openly gay candidate could be evaluated on his ideas and not on his personal life.



a purge

We were becoming too much Progressive and not enough of what some people call conservative. We had to be purged.




And we have been.



not dead

But that needn't be the end of it.




So here’s the opportunity for many of us.  Our party left us and we cannot follow because of principles. So let’s start a party based on principles. What a concept. Let’s start a party that is not old and tired like the federal Liberals. Let’s start a party that is not tied up in right wing dogma like the Alliance and its new heir. Let’s be progressive, pragmatic and populist but without the extremes of the NDP.



reach out

Let’s start a party that can support businesses but realise that they exist to make us all wealthier. I'm not talking about a culture of entitlement, but one where if you work hard you'll get ahead. But one that realises that some people do start out with some disadvantages. A party that realizes that it’s cheaper to invest in a kid than to pay for the costs of delinquency, gangs and prison. Let’s start a party that recognises that pragmatic balance is important, that listening to Canadians is important and that will find new ideas — really new ideas. Sorry to those who think that “tax and spend” or “drop taxes and don't spend” are the only alternatives.  Why not spend wisely and strategically? Invest in the future and respect the people who you take money from by being frugal with today’s dollars? Let’s abolish the “trough”. Seriously look at proportional representation.  Let us reach out to have real dialogue with the East, West, Quebec, the territories, aboriginals…why not?  Heck, I’ll even take it if we want to keep bashing Ontario as a sport! 


Let’s start a party that knows that the problems that face us are difficult and tenacious, but that knows that when Canadians unite in common cause they can do anything!




What I’m saying is that there is a real opportunity here to do things differently. Instead of bemoaning our loss (which I felt as much as any of us!) -- Let’s unite what’s left of the Progressive wing of the party and show people what a real Progressive Conservative party could be!  Let’s UNITE THE BRIGHT!



big ideas
make a

I could be wrong. New parties traditionally don't do well in this country. That’s why the Alliance had to take over the Tories. They were at the end of their cycle. But we’re not a “new party”.  We’re the party of John Diefenbaker who took the country by storm and gave us a Bill of Rights. We’re the party of Joe Clark, who incidentally was only person who ever beat Trudeau in an election.  People forget that. And we’re the party of John A.  - who pushed through one of the biggest capital projects in the world and did the impossible — he knit together the coalition that founded this country.  Big ideas can make a difference. 




Let’s start a party that makes promises that it keeps. Can you imagine?  A party that keeps it word.  And let’s start that party now.



the door

Sorry this is so long, but I had to write it.  I really believe that every time a door closes another opens.  MacKay and Harper slammed one door in our face. Let’s open another! 




Jim Love