Pro-life, pro-family, 19-year-old gains 53 per cent of byelection votes
By Agnieszka Krawczynski
A homeschooled 19-year-old has become youngest Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario’s history.
While many of his peers were worrying about midterms, Sam Oosterhoff set aside his first year of studies in political science at Brock University to try his hand at real-world politics.
On Nov. 17, he won in his riding of Niagara-West Glanbrook in what political commentator and pro-life activist Alissa Golob has called a David and Goliath moment.
“Sam was never meant to win. Rick Dykstra, former MP and current president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, was meant to win,” she wrote on her blog after his byelection victory.
“Sam went from the ultimate underdog to the official candidate of the PC Party of Ontario to the youngest elected MPP of all time, beating out one heck of a Goliath.”
Oosterhoff gained nearly 54 per cent of votes cast in a byelection to replace PC MPP Tim Hudak, who resigned in September.
NDP Mike Thomas came in second, with about 25 per cent of the vote, and Liberal candidate and lawyer Vicky Ringuette came third with 15 per cent.
“There is no doubt that Sam Oosterhoff is a hard-worker, but it was his values and his convictions that helped him defy all odds,” Golob said.
Oosterhoff, a Christian, has spoken out against abortion as well as the new sex-ed curriculum introduced by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. He called Bill 28, which replaces “mother” and “father” to gender-neutral terms in legal documents, “poorly written” and “disrespectful to mothers and fathers.”
On his website, the teen lists some of his other values, including lowering hydro prices, securing funding for quality health care, and supporting parents as primary educators of their children.
“Today we've sent a strong message to Kathleen Wynne that people are fed up," he said after his win, reported the Hamilton Spectator.
“People have had enough of soaring hydro rates. People have had enough of cuts to health care.”
The young politician has support from Christian political groups such as the Association for Reformed Political Action.
“There’s a danger that people might attempt to put me into one box,” Oosterhoff told ARPA during its online radio program Salt and Light.
“I’m not a one-issue person. I’m a conservative on a wide variety of issues and I’m excited to work with a team that allows me to bring the concerns and values of my constituents.”
During the campaign he raises issues such as small businesses, tourism, and conscience protection for doctors. Oosterhoff also has a strong pro-life stance that earned him praise from some groups and harsh criticism from others.
“I have watched with distaste as a wave of vitriol has met Oosterhoff’s arrival in the public sphere. And I don’t mean disagreement with his stances on things, I mean vitriol,” wrote pro-life activist Jonathon Van Maren.
“Because Oosterhoff does not have same views as them – because he is, in their minds, a hateful, narrow-minded person – they wish that they could hit him, or that a Greyhound bus would do the job for them.”
Others have criticized Oosterhoff for dodging media questions or failing to clarify how he can be against “same-sex marriage” and not a homophobe.
The B.C. Catholic requested an interview with Oosterhoof, but phone calls and emails to his office were not returned.