Garry Andrade, aged 50, owns a resort in Marten River and is running for the fledgling New Blue Ontario party, a party born when Conservative MPP Belinda Karahalios was tossed out for speaking against Doug Ford’s Emergencies Act. Her husband, Jim Karahalios, is the leader of the party. Living at the south end of Timiskaming-Cochrane, Andrade is quite familiar with West Nipissing. “I’m a father, grandfather, small business owner… I’m the son of Portuguese immigrants… New Blue is a party that is about renewing political accountability. We’re grass roots… all walks of life, members right across the spectrum. We were born out of frustration with the establishment government, the way things are run.” The frustration seems to stem from a sense that the Ford Conservatives have been co-opted by the federal Liberals. “In my opinion the Ford government is not acting like a Progressive Conservative government anymore. …A Conservative government wouldn’t have the kind of budget the Ford government has produced. They wouldn’t have put so much debt onto the people and so many onerous taxes.”
Andrade says that based on his door knocking, plenty of PC voters are moving over to New Blue. “I have been getting amazing response… We believe government should not be oppressing people with mandates, vaccine passes, business shut downs; a business should be allowed to run… During the last two years why was it okay for Walmart to have 5000 people in their stores while a little mom and pop shop couldn’t handle one or two people at a time?” Andrade says the Ford government basically rewarded major players and crushed the small guy.
According to campaign literature, the New Blue Ontario wants to scrap taxpayer subsidies to political parties, ban lobbyists, and crack down on voter fraud within internal party elections. They want to defund establishment media and promote free press. They plan on reducing the HST to 10% to provide some tax relief, and “axe the Doug Ford carbon tax”. In education, they want to reduce administrative costs, introduce alternative schooling tax credits and stop “woke activism with the removal of critical race theory and gender identity theory from our schools.”
Andrade also wants to cut electricity costs by cancelling wind turbine contracts as too costly, “We’re not against green power but just against contracts that don’t make sense for the people of Ontario.” As for health care, Andrade says there is no push for privatisation. “We need to open up more hospital beds… they fired 18,000 nursers across Ontario,” says Andrade. “For 18 months those nurses were on the front lines… we were thanking them for putting themselves at risk, and one day, because they make a personal medical decision (refusing vaccines) – which is no business of the government to tell them what to put in their body, [suddenly] those 18,000 nurses are no longer qualified… They fired them… Let’s bring them back; it will open hundreds of beds across Ontario.”
Garry Andrade will be at the May 26 All Candidates event in Sturgeon Falls. “One reason I think I am right for Timiskaming-Cochrane is that I have four pillars in my decision-making process. First pillar on any issue is – Is this good for Timiskaming-Cochrane, yes or no? I’ll base that on constituents getting a hold of me and letting me know what they want… Number 2, if there is an issue coming up and has zero effect on Timiskaming-Cochrane … [but] it’s good for the north I will vote for it… 3rd, is it good for the province of Ontario and 4th pillar – what does the party want. We will not have a whip. Our current MPP has proved that having a whip just allows the north to be ignored by the people of Toronto. What a whip does is force the vote to what the leader in Toronto wants. We’re not that kind of party.”
Andrade is of the opinion that the three main parties are trying to outdo each other on who can spend more and who can create more ‘onerous rules’. “It’s hard to tell any of them apart anymore. We are a concerned group of citizens from all walks of life who just want to bring some sanity back to government.”