By: Gillian Davis
Written On: 2022-05-27
It all began with a vote in Queen’s Park, Ontario’s legislature. MPP Belinda Karahalios voted against Bill 195 – a bill that she felt was blatant government overreach. The bill would extend the governments emergency powers indefinitely, beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. For exercising her conscience in July of 2020, she was kicked out of Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party. With the support and encouragement of numerous frustrated Ontarians, she and her husband Jim founded the New Blue Party of Ontario. They are determined this new party will be an answer to the lack of integrity and fairness they see in the current political system and a way to give centre-right voters a real choice in the province.
Unfortunately, this dynamic, grassroots party has had to face incredible obstacles, including Jim’s battle with cancer, attacks from the opposing provincial parties, marginalizing by the media, Elections Ontario and various debate hosting bodies. Despite all of these Goliaths, New Blue has been the new little party that is putting up a tremendous fight.
Jim Karahalios, leader of The New Blue Party of Ontario, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. He’s brash, outspoken and fiercely opinionated. He doesn’t mince words and tells you how he sees things. He once told me that he often feels like the Greek mythological character, Kassandra, who spoke the truth but no one could believe her. He is so passionate about the future of Ontario that he does not pull his punches – he gets things done and can make people uncomfortable in the process. However, this David just might have a valid reason for doing things the way he does.
The New Blue Party of Ontario was the first alternative provincial party to put together a complete infrastructure including a constitution, 124 operational constituency associations, mission statement, along with resources and training to get candidates off to a flying start. Jim is very proud of the fact that The New Blue Party of Ontario has a full slate of candidates across all 124 Ontario ridings. For a brand new, grassroots party, and thanks to the energy of the Karahalios’s and their team, they have achieved a lot in a very short time period.
Early supporter, Michael Scott, says “Like many others, I became unhappy with Doug Ford. Quite some time ago I started to research all my options for conservative provincial parties. I approached my research with an open mind – I was not tied to any party leader. I became aware of the New Blue Party and started following them. I also paid attention to other supposed new provincial parties and rumours, but none of them came to fruition. I found that New Blue was working very hard building the party from day one. I followed their progress, while still paying attention to other potential parties and leaders. Following New Blue was a no-brainer at the end of the day.”
He continues, “I have found that the New Blue Party has been consistent throughout the campaign, which I like. New Blue was unfortunately forced to address the negative attention that was orchestrated by Derek Sloan. In my opinion New Blue responded appropriately and has attempted (as much as possible) to redirect the party’s attention on Doug Ford and the election, without pandering to Derek Sloan’s targeting.”
When asked how he feels about the current political systems he says “I do still have faith in the political system itself. One of the problems is that people do not exercise their voice. There are far too many people who do not vote.. One of the larger issues, in my opinion, is the biased media which gives the establishment parties a favourable competitive advantage. There is a clear conflict of interest here. And this is dangerous to our system as a whole.”
Van Nguyen – Mississauga-Malton riding candidate says “I am excited for this upcoming election on June 2nd. I am exhausted but all the hard work is paying off because the New Blue word is spreading like wild fire! We are picking up momentum and people are so open and receptive to the New Blue message.”
When I asked her about her experience working with the New Blue leadership team she offered “New Blue is extremely organized. There are some minor bumps that need to be smoothed out but that’s growing pains – not everything is going to be smooth for a brand new party, but overall, New Blue has been quite supportive and extremely organized.”
Stephen Skivington – Kingston and the Islands riding candidate says, “Feeling very confident. I’m right where I need to be at this point in the campaign.” In regard to the grassroots strategy encouraged by the party, Stephen says, “By the end of the campaign, we will have personally hand delivered 20,000 pamphlets. Support from headquarters and the constituency association has been as good as might be expected. Very impressed that Jim and Belinda set up the infrastructure properly so they could concentrate on finding the best possible candidates. Unfortunately, relying on volunteers to service 124 candidates/ridings has proven to be challenging at best and very frustrating at worst.”
When it comes to the costs and activities involved in campaigning, Stephen says, “we have been able to pay for 20,000 pamphlets, a radio campaign on three stations, and a half-page ad (including digital) in the Kingston Whig Standard the Saturday before E-day, which will hit 41,000 homes. What I’m most pleased with is that we’ve been able to run a viable campaign without going into debt. I will be participating in my third and final debate…an event sponsored by the local teachers’ unions. I was invited to a debate on Wolfe Island (which I gladly accepted) just before the Writ was dropped; was invited and then uninvited to an event put on by Queen’s University; and invited to a debate on Cogeco TV dealing specifically with diversity issues. Despite my best efforts, the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce refused to allow me to participate in their debate. Most valuable, however, was the free time interview (half an hour) and ad (30 seconds) I was able to record with Cogeco, which not only ran endlessly on their network, but also on YouTube.” (Cogeco is a local Kingston TV channel.)
Stephen is one of the few who has been able to overcome the mainstream bias against New Blue. Elections Ontario set rules for the debates and The New Blue Party of Ontario met them yet were excluded from debates and events. In local ridings, candidates for New Blue if invited to participate in local debates were later disinvited, including one in Belinda’s Cambridge riding where she is the incumbent. Polling has lumped all independents and non-mainstream parties in one group and therefore it is impossible to tell specifically how New Blue is fairing. It is clear that the ‘other’ category is giving the Green Party a run for its money.
Jim Karahalios says that he always knew this was going to be a “long term project” that there are “no quick fixes” in our current political malaise. He is pleased that New Blue’s grassroots strategy has paid off and they have achieved their goals of having a constituency association and viable candidate in every one of the 124 ridings, have grown awareness and are making headway in challenging the legacy party narrative. I could hear the exhaustion and hope in his voice when he told me that “Things are looking good on the ground. Support keeps growing across the province and I think that we are competitive.” Despite, or maybe because of all the challenges New Blue faces, the party is set to be a thorn in the side of the many Goliaths this David faces and that can only be a good thing for the complacent legacy parties and the people of Ontario.
To learn more about the New Blue Party, you can check out their New Blueprint here.
Diverge Media is independent media organization that is dedicated to bringing you the stories that matter. We aim to be impartial and to provide a well-balanced reporting of the facts. If you want to support independent Canadian media that cares about getting it right and isn’t afraid of hard discussion – please do so in the form below.
You must log in to post a comment.