I’ve always found it interesting to see what becomes of failed, long shot leadership candidates, it’s been a poli-geeky interest of mine. There are many people who run (or try to run) for the leadership of many parties who, frankly, have no business being in such a race. They aren’t elected, they don’t have the experience, they don’t have the support and therefore, don’t have a hope in Hades. Yet that doesn’t stop them from trying, and eventually they become a quirky footnote in our political history.
It was in that vein that I came across something interesting today about one such failed candidate and what they are doing now. Remember Jim Karahalios? He was a hard-right candidate who tried to run during the Federal Conservative leadership race, but was disqualified. He took that disqualification to court, which overturned it, but then was disqualified days later as the Conservatives followed the path the court gave them to disqualify him. During that race he made problematic comments around pride parades, abortion rights and the Paris Accord.
Adding to all of that, he also ran for president of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, which he lost and sued over, all while his wife Belinda sat in the Ford PC caucus, until she was ejected for voting against some of their COVID measures. Needless to say, there hasn’t been a lack of things to talk about around the Karahalios’ but even with all of that there I stumbled across something else that’s new from them and it’s something:
Well I guess we can put this development under the category of “I don’t need your stinking club, I’ll make one of my own”. And with that, Jim and Belinda are going to try to succeed in something where others have recently failed. Former PC MPP Jack MacLaren, when he was tossed from their caucus for ignorant comments, took over the fledgling social conservative Trillium Party. When he ran under that banner in the last election, he got thumped in his riding, earning less than 4% of the vote and has not been heard from since.
That is the history that Jim and Belinda Karahalios now step into, as they try to get the New Blue Party of Ontario off the ground. In doing so, they appear to be building off of Jim Karahalios’ policy combination of hard right, grievance conservatism and just plain grievance in general so far. That was enough to get him an interview with none other than Ezra Levant, so I guess it’s not a total bust so far. Oh, and he’s been spending a fair bit of time re-tweeting Maxime Bernier too, saying that “he was right” about the Conservatives, I guess in an attempt to make his party the defacto provincial wing of Bernier’s fledgling PPC.
As you might be able to tell from above, all of this doesn’t seem to be much of a recipe for success of any kind, at least not in this country. First Karahalios needs to get 1,000 signatures to become an official party and if they get there, I assume we’ll see Belinda Karahalios become the first New Blue MPP at Queen’s Park, which isn’t nothing. That being said, having the platform of being in the legislature did nothing in the end of Jack MacLaren, so it’s easy to see how it will do no more to help the Karahalios’. I guess time will tell.
But in the meantime, Ontario might be on the verge of another far-right party that, if history is any guide, promises to do nothing more than siphon a hand full of votes from the Ford Conservatives for one election before going away forever. This all feels more like a vanity project for an obscure politician who simply won’t go away than a serious attempt to form a party. This also feels like a last gasp attempt by a sitting MPP to stay in her seat while facing certain defeat in a couple of years when the next general election in Ontario is supposed to come. We’ll see what it all turns into, but it feels like the Karahalios’ are in the process of joining Jack MacLaren, Maxime Bernier and others as quirky footnotes in Canadian political history.