Youngest-ever MPP Sam Oosterhoff grilled before swearing-in Wednesday
Delay for swearing in for Niagara West-Glanbrook MPP meant he missed a vote on same-sex parenting
Sam Oosterhoff, the youngest-ever MPP elected to Ontario legislature, was sworn in at Queen's Park Wednesday morning, two days later than his compatriot who was elected at the same time to represent Ottawa.
On his way in, Oosterhoff was grilled by reporters about his attitude towards homosexuality. One reporter said he posted a link on Facebook that said homosexuality was a sin.
"I did not say that on Facebook," he said.
He said Premier Kathleen Wynne is "worthy of respect as the premier" but that he has "grave concerns with the directions of many of her policies."
He said he wants to work on "tackling hydro rates," healthcare rates and infrastructure investments as the population grows in the Niagara peninsula.
He said he "looks forward to holding the Liberals to account."
Oosterhoff's swearing-in was said to be delayed so all his family and supporters could attend a party at Queen's Park later on. Ottawa-Vanier MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers was sworn in Monday.
By waiting until Wednesday, Oosterhoff missed a vote on Bill 28, which passed Tuesday and streamlines the process for gay and lesbian parents to have children. Nearly half of the Progressive Conservative caucus was absent for the vote. The Liberals failed in a last-minute request to delay the vote to wait for Oosterhoff.
He said he had a niece born on Monday and pushing his swearing-in to Wednesday allowed her father to be with him in Toronto. He said he wanted to focus on the "historic" nature of his being sworn in as the youngest MPP ever.
"Being elected as the youngest member of provincial parliament is a great honour," Oosterhoff said.
But he did share his thoughts on the bill on Twitter on Tuesday.
Bill 28 a poorly written piece of legislation, and disrespectful to mothers and fathers. Reasonable <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PCPO?src=hash">#PCPO</a> amendment ignored by <a href="https://twitter.com/OntLiberal">@OntLiberal</a>—@samoosterhoff
Reporters pushed him Wednesday to elaborate on what he meant by the law being "disrespectful to mothers and fathers".
He said he was disappointed to see specific "mother" and "father" language changed to gender-neutral terms but emphasized he wasn't sworn in in time for the vote.
"That was yesterday, and today, I'm focused on getting sworn in and enjoying this moment with family and friends and getting to work," he said.
He repeatedly declined to answer whether he believes homosexuality is a sin. He said he believes "we need to treat everyone with dignity and respect."
He said he is proud to be on Brown's team.
Patrick Brown, leader of the Progressive Conservatives, of which Oosterhoff is a member, reiterated to the Toronto Star that Oosterhoff's delay was in order to organize a celebration, and that the PCs would be supporting Bill 28.
"He wanted his family here," Brown said Wednesday. "We respect that."
The 19-year-old was elected in a byelection last month and will be representing the Niagara West-Glanbrook riding. Oosterhoff, a social conservative, is a student at Brock University.
The Liberals tried to draw attention to Oosterhoff's social views during the election, as his rise comes at a time when Brown hopes to portray the party as a centrist alternative to the Liberals.
Oosterhoff, who earned the nomination in part with support from his church, has said he is pro-life.
With files from Kate McGillivray, Mike Crawley, Canadian Press, Samantha Craggs