Sam Oosterhoff: Teenage Tory wins Ontario byelection
Sam Oosterhoff: Teenage Tory wins Ontario byelection

Sam Oosterhoff: Teenage Tory wins Ontario byelection

Sam Oosterhoff, 19-Year-Old Conservative, Wins Ontario Byelection.

Sam Oosterhoff just became one of Ontario’s highest paid teenagers, winning a Niagara byelection and an MPP’s salary of $116,500 plus a taxpayer-funded pad in Toronto.

The 19-year-old Progressive Conservative kept the wine-country riding in Tory hands while civil rights lawyer Nathalie Des Rosiers held Ottawa-Vanier for Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals in Thursday’s other byelection.

To the relief of the Liberals, Des Rosiers easily defeated outspoken former Ontario ombudsman André Marin, a star candidate for the Conservatives.

Marin — who was ombudsman for 11 years and is currently suing the legislature because his contract ended — is the first Tory candidate to lose a byelection since Patrick Brown took the leader’s job last year.

“I am absolutely thrilled that Nathalie Des Rosiers is going to be joining us at Queen’s Park,” an elated Wynne told more than 250 cheering Liberals at a packed Knights of Columbus hall.

The premier’s political future might have been imperiled if the Grits had lost a riding they have held since 1971.

‎With Liberals gathering in Ottawa Friday for their annual general meeting, there would have been questions about her leadership this weekend. But Des Rosiers’ win means Wynne has dodged a bullet.

Oosterhoff, a home-schooled social conservative on hiatus from first-year political science studies at Brock University, will become the youngest MPP in Ontario history. He lives with his parents.

Brown hailed him for an “impressive victory” in a fight against soaring hydro rates and downplayed the loss in Ottawa-Vanier, which he dismissed as a “Liberal fortress.”

Oosterhoff said it was “a humbling experience.”

“It’s a great responsibility that’s been placed on me,” said Oosterhoff, who increased his party’s share of the vote ‎in the race that saw the Liberals fall to third place and the NDP vaulting to second.

The young MPP evaded questions on whether he believes homosexuality is a sin and whether he will support Bill 28, which will make it easier for lesbian and gay parents to have children and which Brown has said the Tories support.

“I believe we need to treat everyone with dignity and respect,” the teen said. “I reach out to all communities.”

The results do not change the standings in the 107-seat legislature, where Wynne enjoys a slim majority with 58 seats — including Speaker Dave Levac — to 29 Conservatives and 20 New Democrats.

Thursday’s byelections came with the Liberals struggling in recent polls behind the Conservatives and a province-wide election looming in June 2018.

The Tories and Andrea Horwath’s NDP used the races to hammer the government over skyrocketing hydro bills and scandals, including recent Elections Act charges against former Wynne deputy chief of staff Patricia Sorbara in last year’s Sudbury byelection.

Wynne insisted she is paying closer attention to pocketbook issues, waiving the 8 per cent provincial portion of the HST on electricity bills starting in January, among other measures.

Oosterhoff replaces former PC leader Tim Hudak in a riding that stretches from Hamilton to St. Catharines. Des Rosiers inherits a suburban Ottawa seat previously held by cabinet minister Madeleine Meilleur.

Both Hudak and Meilleur left politics earlier this year.

“I know I have huge, big red shoes to fill,” Des Rosiers said of her predecessor, a beloved figure in Vanier.

Oosterhoff’s surprise nomination as the Tory candidate — facing Liberal family lawyer Vicky Ringuette, 37 and retired policeman Mike Thomas, 61, of the NDP — created challenges for Brown on two fronts.

With support from parishioners at his church, the teen beat Brown’s close friend, PC party president and former St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra, for the job.

The third-place NDP candidate in Ottawa-Vanier was retired civil servant Claude Bisson, brother of New Democrat House leader Gilles Bisson at Queen’s Park.


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