Orchard goes to court
By Marshall Bellamy
Former federal Progressive Conservative Party leadership contender
David Orchard is launching a lawsuit to fight the expected
merger between the PCs and the Canadian Alliance, a move Orchard
claims is against the party’s constitution.
“Usually going to the courts is a very slow and expensive
proposition,” said Sid Noel, professor of political science
at King’s College, adding a written promise between Orchard
and Conservative leader Peter MacKay to not merge the two parties
was broken by MacKay.
According to Noel, the lawsuit will probably have little effect
on the process because the courts tend to be extremely slow.
Since the vote and merger could have already taken place, there
is a chance the lawsuit could work, he explained. “It
has the potential to throw a spanner in all of the works.”
Former Western law professor Ken Alexander stated that Orchard
feels the merger will wipe out the party’s existence,
while MacKay maintains that only the party constitution will
be changed, which requires a two-thirds party majority vote.
“There’s enough weasel-room on the phraseology
[in the party constitution],” Alexander added, citing
the judge ruling on the case will also realize the importance
of the issue. He explained the party’s constitution is
very specific, however the courts are not operating within
a vacuum and will look outside the constitution when reached
a decision. “Common sense is a consideration.”
“I think they’d come down on [MacKay’s] side — they’ll
probably agree on the two-thirds,” Alexander said. “But
courts don’t like wading into a political issue.”
“I can’t believe MacKay has done what he has done,” said
Jacquetta Newman, an associate professor of political science
at King’s, adding if MacKay waited several years, the
Conservatives could have gained a lot of ground because many
Canadians would feel unsatisfied with Paul Martin’s government
and vote PC.
According to Newman, MacKay has lost considerable credibility
within Conservative ranks over his move to merge the two parties
and cannot hope to also be leader of the new party. “You
couldn’t trust him as far as you can throw him.”
Newman said she sees the lawsuit as a delaying action and
as a method to keep public attention on the whole issue.