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New Blue candidate hopes to provide alternative for BSOM voters

'I have noticed that people are very polarized and New Blue aims to build bridges between political parties,' says Hayden Hughes

The Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte (BSOM) riding has a new party for the provincial election and it's a local man who's hoping to make New Blue known to voters. 

Hayden Hughes was born and raised in Barrie, graduating from Eastview Secondary School in 2012. At the University of Ottawa, he obtained a bachelor's degree in human kinetics with a minor in gerontology. 

Hughes admits not growing up with aspirations of being a politician, but says he felt compelled to run over the last few years after becoming upset with the Progressive Conservative government under Doug Ford.

“I looked forward to the next election cycle and saw the prospects were alarming," Hughes told BarrieToday. "There was no one who I believed would represent what I wanted in this province, until I heard of New Blue.

“I came to learn that New Blue was a new provincial political party that offered a conservative platform and was an alternative to the Ontario PC Party," he added. "I then looked into the party more and found a true leader, Belinda Karahalios, whose courage in Queen's Park motivated me to reach out and inquire about getting involved.”

While out knocking on doors, Hughes says what he has heard from constituents so far is a concern that people have less money and want better treatment for health-care workers.

“Thus far, I have heard a lot of different issues from residents directly related to less money in the pockets of people. Specifically, we have discussed unaffordable housing, homelessness, gas prices, and the raised cost of living," he said. "These are all notable issues in this coming election.

“Another significant issue that many feel must be addressed is the under-staffing in health care," Hughes added. "This is something that I have heard from many of the health-care workers that I have spoken to, specifically PSWs (personal support workers) and those who work in long-term care homes.”

With the temperment in Canada seeming to become angry and divisive in recent months, BarrieToday asked Hughes how he plans to simmer those feelings. 

“I have noticed that people are very polarized and New Blue aims to build bridges between political parties," he said. "New Blue intends to respect individuals and their own beliefs. We must agree to disagree to be in a civil society and move forward.

"I have experienced this in my personal life, situations in which people opt not to talk about politics due to having opposite views, and the expression of these opposite views creates tension that lingers even when they are not being directly discussed," Hughes added.

Hughes also touched on a topic that is a significant concern for local voters — the health of Lake Simcoe.

He says he agrees with the current plan to reduce phosphorus loads, increase public engagement in invasive species control, and protect the area around it known as the watershed.

“With an increasing population, I’m sure there will be a lot of temptation to build lucrative highrise apartment buildings with great views, resorts with timeshares that people can retreat to, and convenient road ways that cut over the lake to reduce commute time," Hughes said. "I believe that all of these temptations ought to be resisted and all political parties should acknowledge and respect Lake Simcoe.

“Urban sprawl should be directed away from Lake Simcoe, as it is not just a provincial focal point, but many surrounding local municipalities border the lake, making their attention to Lake Simcoe more focused and personal.”

The provincial election date is June 2.