Statement on the By-elections in Ottawa-Vanier & Niagara West-Glanbrook
November 18 2016
LGBTory would like to congratulate André Marin for his hard-fought and principled progressive campaign in Ottawa-Vanier in the November 17 by-election. Several LGBTory members worked as volunteers on his campaign, and we know him to be committed to a diverse Ontario Progressive Conservative Party (OPCP) and to hold deeply-felt convictions about the equality of all Ontarians, including members of the LGBT community. Not only has he been relentless in spreading the OPCP message about the urgent need to defeat the Liberal government of Ontario, he has also been an outspoken critic of people who want to use the OPCP as a platform for intolerance and seek to turn back the clock on the hard-won freedoms gained by some of Ontario’s most vulnerable groups. We are disappointed by his by-election loss, but heartened by the gains he made for the OPCP in this traditionally Liberal riding.
We also congratulate Patrick Brown and the OPCP for a convincing win in Niagara West-Glanbrook. The victory gained by the party in this riding points once again to deep voter discontent with the Ontario Liberal government and the clearly-expressed desire for change.
However, we have reservations about the newly-elected MPP in Niagara West-Glanbrook, Sam Oosterhoff. His past postings on social media, his refusal to address questions regarding his beliefs or his intentions once elected to the Legislature, and his support from fundamentalist religious groups openly hostile to the LGBT community raise serious concerns for us. We did not endorse him in the by-election, and we have yet to be convinced that his election will not have a negative impact on the LGBT citizens in his riding or in Ontario.
During his campaign for the OPCP nomination in Niagara West-Glanbrook, Mr. Oosterhoff was heavily supported by religious groups openly opposed to the equality of LGBT people. We know these groups well; they worked diligently and unsuccessfully to defeat our efforts to change the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) marriage policy at the convention in May, and they have been campaigning hard to stop the implementation of the new Ontario sex education curriculum which, for the first time, advocates treating LGBT students and their families with acceptance, understanding and compassion.
During the election campaign, reports surfaced of material that Mr. Oosterhoff had posted to his personal social media accounts with links to fundamentalist religious organizations harbouring hostile and bigoted attitudes towards LGBT people, and it was clear from these posts that he condoned these doctrines. During the election campaign, he was evasive or refused to answer questions about this. He repeatedly declined to comment on legitimate concerns about his connections to the religious groups that supported his candidacy. He also refused to answer questions about whether or not he would work to stop the implementation of the new sex education curriculum once elected. We are very concerned about Mr. Oosterhoff’s lack of transparency and, ultimately, his ability to represent the best interests of his LGBT constituents as an MPP.
We support Patrick Brown’s policy of avoiding divisive social issues in the OPCP and concentrating on the priorities that unite all Ontario Conservatives: cutting red tape, providing affordable energy, investing in infrastructure and addressing the skills gap in the work force. We believe his recent statement that “it doesn't matter who you love, the government has no business in your personal life”, and we support his repudiation of the purported influence of fundamentalist religious groups in the OPCP. We anticipate continued progress in this area from Patrick Brown and his team and will continue to work with him and help him with his efforts to encourage tolerance and diversity in the OPCP.
Nevertheless, now that Mr. Oosterhoff is an elected MPP he will be subjected to increased scrutiny, and we expect him to represent and defend the rights of all citizens in his riding regardless of their religious beliefs or sexual orientation. We will vigorously oppose any efforts by him or any groups associated with him to push policies in either the OPCP or the Provincial Legislature that are harmful to the LGBT community.