Hamilton

Premier's office won't say what Ford told Niagara MPP Oosterhoff before anti-abortion event

The Ontario premier’s office remains silent about a promised conversation between Doug Ford and MPP Sam Oosterhoff, who was the featured speaker at an anti-abortion event Wednesday night where an organizer compared abortions to the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jewish people were murdered by Nazis.

Organizer compared abortions to the Holocaust, where 6 million Jewish people were murdered by Nazis

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff — who has always been vocal about his pro-life stance — pledged at an anti-abortion rally in Toronto in 2019 to make abortion 'unthinkable.' (Lisa Xing/CBC)

The Ontario premier's office was silent on Thursday about a promised talk between Doug Ford  and MPP Sam Oosterhoff, who was the featured speaker at an anti-abortion event Wednesday night.

But the premier's office is making it clear that Oosterhoff did not represent the Ontario PCs or the provincial government at the event.

"As he stated in his opening remarks, Sam was there in his own capacity," Ford's director of media relations Ivana Yelich wrote in an email to CBC Hamilton.

"He was not there representing the Ontario PC Party or the government of Ontario."

On Monday Ford told reporters, "I'll be speaking to Sam tonight," but no details about that conversation have been shared with the public.

Yelich refused to comment on what the premier and MPP discussed.

Event hosted by anti-abortion groups

Wednesday night's event was hosted by anti-abortion groups, including the University of Ottawa Students for Life, Carleton Life Network and University of Waterloo Students for Life, in collaboration with National Campus Life Network.

One of the organizers compared abortions to the Holocaust, where six million Jewish people were murdered by Nazis.

CBC News contacted Oosterhoff's office and was told our questions would be sent to the MPP and his media relations personnel.

NDP: 'Is Doug Ford condoning his anti-choice crusading?'

When it became clear Oosterhoff was still going ahead with the anti-abortion event after Ford said he would be speaking with the MPP,  NDP Leader Andrea Horwath asked: "Is Oosterhoff fired, or is Doug Ford condoning his anti-choice crusading?"

"It's clear that Doug Ford has given his MPP the green light to attend an event that compares every woman's right to choose to the horrors of the Holocaust," Horwath said in a news release. 

"Doug Ford promised to take action, but instead of firing him from his parliamentary assistant role immediately, Doug seems to have given his approval."

During his media briefing on Monday, Ford said the Holocast comparison was "just wrong." The premier also said that "everyone has the right to believe in what they want" and that he wasn't "one to dictate anyone's belief." 

The Niagara West MPP — who has always been vocal about his pro-life stance — pledged at an anti-abortion rally in Toronto in 2019 to make abortion "unthinkable." 

"I'm pro-life. I believe children should be allowed to live, no matter how small they are," Oosterhoff said at the time.

"We have survived 50 years of abortion in Canada and we pledge to fight to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime."

Niagara Reproductive Justice, which advocates for increased visibility of and access to sexual health resources in the region, condemned the MPP's involvement.

"Events like these show how important it is that we continue protecting a person's right to choose and challenge the misinformation being spread about supposed moral and medical dangers of abortion," the group said, noting it would fight to keep abortion legal and safe for people.

"Abortion is healthcare and that is not up for debate."

With files from CBC News

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