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Two more candidates for the ballot in Nipissing

The None of the Above Party and The New Blue Party of Ontario have candidates lined up to run in the June 2 provincial election in Nipissing
2022 03 31 Taylor Russell (Supplied)
Taylor Russell, New Blue Party of Ontario candidate for Nipissing

The roster of candidates running to represent the Nipissing riding at Queen's Park should soon grow to six.

North Bay's Taylor Russell confirmed his candidacy via Twitter and will represent the New Blue Party of Ontario.

Giacomo Vezina of North Bay is the nominee for the None of the Above Party and expects to make his candidacy for the seat in Nipissing official soon. Wikipedia lists both Russell and Vezina as candidates on its 2022 Ontario Election page.

The two will join incumbent Ontario PC candidate Vic Fedeli, Ontario NDP candidate Erika Lougheed, the Ontario Green Party's Sean McClocklin, and Tanya Vrebosch representing the Ontario Liberals in the race to become Nipissing's Member of Provincial Parliament.

Russell's bio lists him as a father, an EMT and an army vet. Russell has also been active in organizing Freedom Convoy events in North Bay and serves as an administrator of the local group's Facebook page. Wikipedia lists Russell as one of 11 New Blue candidates in the scheduled June 2 election.

"Like many people across this country I became concerned that while Canadians were busy working and raising our children, our leaders had taken their hands off the wheel.

"Our Province has been careening off course for some time now. SARS Cov-2 made this clear to everyone. We are headed in the wrong direction. After two years of destructive policies and broken promises, I have decided to stand up for my community and take the wheel back," from Russell's website.

Married couple Jim Karahalios, the New Blue Party's leader and Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios formed the New Blue Party of Ontario in October 2020. The two are former members of the Ontario PC Party who split following legal wrangling over internal election procedures. MPP Karahalios was expelled from the Ontario PC caucus by Premier Doug Ford. In January 2021, the New Blue Party was officially registered by Elections Ontario.

In various media reports, they said then "no party in the Ontario legislature is defending the taxpayer, defending small business, defending places of worship, promoting freedom, promoting democracy or fighting political corruption."

Political aspirations run in Giacomo Vezina's family. His uncle, Greg, who has ties to North Bay, is the leader of the None of the Above Party and founded NOTA in 2014 in "response to his disillusionment with the current major political parties."

The NOTA website lists candidates in 55 of 124 ridings.

Giacomo Vezina tells BayToday he does not "hold any personal political beliefs or policies other than the fundamentals of the NOTA party which are the three R's — Referendum, Recall, and Responsible government laws for true legislative and electoral reforms of direct democracy."

"My goal is to directly represent and listen to my constituents and to be personally held accountable for any broken promises," he adds.

It seems the standing of their respective parties will see these two candidates excluded from the main part of the May 16 debate, to be hosted by YourTV.

See: Candidates circle the date for local debate

According to the company's rules, the debate is only open to candidates who represent parties with seats in the Ontario Legislature and are members of the party to which they were elected. Because MPP Karahalios has switched parties, this excludes the New Blue candidate and NOTA has zero seats.

YourTV states, "Candidates invited to participate in the YourTV debate represent the Ontario PC Party, Green Party of Ontario, Ontario Liberal Party and the Ontario NDP.  All other local-level candidates will be offered free time messages that will air as part of the debate programming."