Oosterhoff says he is ‘absolutely not’ a homophobe in opposition to same-sex bill
The 19-year-old was sworn in Wednesday, facing questions from reporters about why the ceremony was delayed and his opposition to a same-sex parenting bill.
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Ontario’s newest legislator said he believes in evolution and is “absolutely not” a homophobe. It remains unclear, however, whether he thinks homosexuality is a sin.
This information was yielded from freshly-minted teenage MPP Sam Oosterhoff, in his introductory scrum with reporters at Queen’s Park. Having won the byelection in Niagara-West Glanbrook earlier this month, the 19-year-old was sworn in Wednesday morning to become the youngest MPP in Ontario history.
He was immediately subjected to a flurry of questions about why he wasn’t sworn in Tuesday, in time to vote on Bill 28, which was unanimously passed and gave same-sex couples and those using reproductive technology legal recognition as parents. He previously told the Star that he “definitely would not have supported it,” and posted on Twitter Tuesday that the bill is “disrespectful to mothers and fathers.”
He refused to clarify what he meant by that on Wednesday morning. He told the Star on Tuesday, however, that he felt the new law “can lead to litigation on the child.”
“I made my sentiments clear yesterday,” he told reporters Wednesday. “I’m excited to be on Patrick Brown’s team. I’m excited to be on a caucus that is going to move Ontario forward, that wants to create a better Ontario, I’m excited to work for the hardworking residents of Niagara-West Glanbrook who have placed their trust in me, and I’m excited to move forward today and celebrate this occasion with my family and friends.”
He added that he’s concerned about infrastructure investments, “the direction” of health care and ballooning hydro rates for his constituents.
Asked if he believes homosexuality is a sin, Oosterhoff said “we need to treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
The governing Liberals charged that PC Leader Patrick Brown, in his push to build a more inclusive party, delayed Oosterhoff’s swearing in to avoid having the young MPP vote against it. During the byelection campaign, much emphasis was placed on Oosterhoff’s social conservative views, such as his opposition to the newly-revamped sex education curriculum. He won the PC nomination for the Niagara-West Glanbrook riding over party president Rick Dykstra, in part by campaigning against the updated curriculum.
The riding is seen as a Progressive Conservative hold; former leader Tim Hudak was MPP there since it was created in 2007.
During the campaign, Brown was accused of “muzzling” Oosterhoff, a first-year political science student at Brock University. On Wednesday, the young MPP said he prefers his constituency to Toronto but “it’s been a good experience so far here.”
With files from Kristin Rushowy, Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson