DDSB trustee Patrice Barnes set to run as Ajax PC candidate in Ontario election

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Published February 14, 2022 at 2:04 pm

The Progressive Conservatives have nominated Patrice Barnes, a long time Durham District School Board trustee, as their Ajax candidate in June’s provincial election.

Barnes has spent the last ten years as a DDSB Trustee and director of the Ontario Public School Board Association. During this time Barnes has focused on improving learning outcomes for marginalized communities.

In her efforts, she has served as a member of the DDSB Youth Poverty Strategy, a team described as “integral” in creating the Cypher Program, Empower Her Conference, and the Getting Ready for Kindergarten Program.

Barnes’ work extends into advisory positions in the group responsible for the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan and as a member of the Ontario Education Partnership Roundtable.

Beyond education, Barnes sits on the Durham Police Services Board, the civilian oversight body of Durham Regional Police.

“As a proud mom, advocate, community leader, and Public School Board Trustee, Ajax residents will have a strong representative at Queen’s Park if I am elected as MPP,” Barnes said, “I am committed to building Ontario and making life more affordable for hardworking families in Ajax.”

Barnes enters an already eventful race for Ajax’s seat at Queen’s Park as the parties ramp up to this summer’s election season.

The Liberal Party announced their candidate, teacher and trade-unionist Amber Bowen, back in May 2021.

The next candidate wouldn’t be announced until January 11 when the NDP nominated Steve Parish, who served as mayor of Ajax for 23 years.

Days later, incumbent MPP Rod Phillips announced his second resignation from cabinet and his intention not to run in June, citing a desire to return to the private sector. Phillips stepped down on February 2, leaving Ajax unrepresented in Queen’s Park.

Parish’s candidacy wouldn’t last long however. Controversy arose around the 2007 naming of an Ajax street after Nazi Captain Hans Langsdorff, shortly after his nomination.

Ajax takes its name from HMS Ajax, a ship in the convoy that fought Langsdorff’s ship, the Admiral Graf Spee, in the Battle of River Plate. Town streets are routinely named after participants in the battle and town council unanimously supported naming a street Langsdorff Drive. The street was later renamed Croker Drive, after Allied seaman V.G. Croker, under Mayor Shaun Collier.

After the Pickering—Uxbridge NDP riding association president Emma Cunningham resigned in protest of his nomination, Parish apologized for the naming, saying “I am profoundly and completely sorry and I offer my complete, unconditional and most sincere apology.”

NDP leader Andrea Horwath announced Parish was out of the running on January 31 with the reasoning, “Specifically, Mr. Parish has not denounced the decision to have a street named after a high-ranking German officer in the Second World War. Perhaps most importantly he has not demonstrated that he understands why that is harmful.”

The NDP have not yet announced a replacement candidate.

Whether Barnes, Bowen or the to-be-determined NDP and Green party candidates will represent Ajax is set to be decided on election day June 2.

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