New Blue seeks social conservative return

Ben Prentice, New Blue Party of Ontario candidate for Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes Brock
Ben Prentice, New Blue Party of Ontario candidate for Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes Brock. Submitted.

Ben Prentice said his decision to run for the New Blue Party of Ontario “boils down to principles.” 

He said the Ford government’s fiscal record points to a shift away from traditional conservative values of keeping a balanced ledger.

 “Even before COVID came in there was higher record of spending, but for a conservative government it’s always been about less oversight,” he said.

 Prentice lives in Millbrook, and owns an HVAC company specializing in industrial piping and installation, which operates across Ontario and Quebec. 

He was the riding president for the new party, before jumping at the chance to run in its first provincial election. The New Blues favour lower taxes and condemned Ford’s approach to the COVID19 pandemic. They said lockdowns and mask mandates disproportionally impacted small businesses. 

The party, formed in 2020, said its mission is to “get our province working again by empowering individuals, strengthening our democracy, defending taxpayers, promoting small businesses, and standing up for faith and families.”

 Prentice said he is concerned about aspects of Ontario’s school curriculum, which the party said shouldn’t contain information on diverse gender identities, critical race theory or in-depth sexual health topics.

 He’s chatted with people who feel schools shouldn’t teach certain health or social history topics. “I want to raise my family as I want to raise them and have less government oversight,” he said. On healthcare, Prentice said, “a lot of the blanket regulations really detracted from what people need.”

 He said money injected into the healthcare system throughout the pandemic should be accounted for, and he suspects rehiring unvaccinated staff would help with staff shortages. He said the pandemic has underscored “the real need for people in these positions to be well taken care of.”

 Prentice said he’s not concerned over the chance new conservative parties such as the Ontario Party and New Blues might split the vote, or decrease Progressive Conservative power in Queen’s Park.

 “I think governments we have now are extremely left,” Prentice said. He said the current Ontario majority isn’t pursuing conservative policies, so alternative, “principled” parties are filling the gap. 

Candidates bow out 

Two candidates won’t be on the ballot June 2. Grant Dewar of the None of the Above Party of Ontario and Fred Fischer of Consensus Ontario are out of the race. 

Dewar said he decided not to run because he was concerned about splitting the vote.

 According to party leader Brad Harness, Fischer did not acquire enough endorsement signatures to run for election.