Canada

Orchard launches blistering attack against Tory, Alliance merger

Former Tory leadership candidate David Orchard calls the conservative merger deal an 'utter betrayal' and an 'illegitimate creation'.

The plan to unite the right has provoked outrage from Progressive Conservative activist David Orchard.

Orchard, a former Tory leadership candidate, is firmly opposed to the plan to merge the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives. He calls it "illegitimate," "undemocratic," and an utter betrayal of the Progressive Conservative party.

Orchard is calling on federal Conservatives to mobilize against the proposed merger. But he's also predicting the Conservatives will be swamped by the larger membership of the Alliance.

He also had scathing words about Conservative Leader Peter MacKay, who promised Orchard in writing during the PC leadership convention never to merge the Tories with the Alliance.

"This creature, the so-called Conservative Party, if it goes forward will be an illegitimate creation conceived in deception and born in betrayal."

Just over four months ago MacKay had signed a pledge not to merge with the Alliance. MacKay has not apologized for his flip-flop, but he says he understands the frustration.

"These are trying times, but to say this is a sellout or betrayal of the Conservative party is just not correct," said MacKay.

Orchard wants Tories to reject the merger which, he says, would be possible if it was simply a vote of the existing membership. But he contends the vote will not be fair, saying he knows Alliance supporters are now amassing memberships so they can skew the results and hijack the party.

"I call it profoundly undemocratic, the idea of holding open the membership of the party to allow the much larger party to take memberships and swamp us," he told a news conference in Ottawa.

Tory MP Rick Borotsik agrees. The Progressive Conservatives have until Dec. 12 to accept or reject the merger plan, and Borotsik says membership sales for that vote should be cut off now. "It should be our members, my members as of this date, today ... you can't flood it with Alliance members and consider it a reasonable process."

The president of the PC party, Brock Easton, confirms membership sales are continuing. "Membership has always been open in the past. I think the people who are for or against have a duty to sign up members," he said.

Orchard has no set plan on how to wage war against the merger, he simply says all options are open, including a legal challenge.