|19-year-old PC candidate Sam Oosterhoff (Facebook)|
But I couldn't let this day go by without marveling at the mindless audacity of most social conservatives, particularly those still hard at work in the grassroots of Patrick Brown's Ontario Progressive Conservatives.
Yesterday, local Tories voted to select a successor to Tim Hudak to run in the provincial byelection Nov 17th in Niagara West-Glanbrook.
They chose 19-year-old, first-year university student Sam Oosterhoff, pictured on the right, whose experience seems to be little more than graduating high school and working briefly as a junior staffer for a Conservative MP on Parliament Hill.
By they, I mean the social conservatives who reportedly swamped the local membership to back this inexperienced yet undeniably handsome young man. He's the perfect definition of a young twink if there ever was one.
In taking the nomination, Oosterhoff beat out party president Rick Dykstra (a personal friend of leader Patrick Brown and former MP for St. Catharines), as well as local businessman Mike Williscraft and Niagara regional councillor Tony Quirk (who was the preferred choice of outgoing MPP Hudak.) Thus, local Tories were not bereft of highly qualified choices.
Yet the so-cons chose this kid, who's now promising to be “a voice for common-sense, pro-family policies and concerns” when he squares off against local Liberal lawyer Vicky Ringuette next month.
“I will never waver in my support of parents as primary educators, and I will strive to ensure that parental rights are respected in education,” said Oosterhoff, echoing the concerns expressed by mostly homophobic opponents of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s updated sex ed curriculum.
The Toronto Star reported that some of the teenager’s supporters marched with pro-life placards at voting locations on Saturday and distributed pamphlets with dead fetuses on them to suggest his rivals for the nomination backed abortion rights.
Such is the extremism of socially conservative wingnuts. It seems no lack of experience in a candidate is preposterous enough to earn their passionate support.
Look at Donald Trump in the U.S. who has also won widespread support from social conservatives, despite the fact that he's a philanderer and has flip flopped on all the important issues these folks claim to care about.
Oosterhoff's strange win also points to more serious chaos inside Patrick Brown's party. How on earth did Brown's office manage to screw up the local nomination so badly? And allowed this kid to emerge victorious?
This, of course, follows the controversy during another byelection fight in August in which 13,000 letters were circulated to Scarborough residents - in English and Chinese and bearing Brown's signature - promising to "scrap" the sex ed curriculum if he becomes premier in 2018. Brown then reneged on that pledge, alienating social conservatives. Brown insists he supports the modernized sex-education curriculum and is pro-choice, despite his long pro-life voting record as a MP.
Perhaps Brown has little ability to run his own party? The result in the Niagara nomination race would suggest that's the case even though I'm sure Brown's allies will argue this is just healthy local democracy at work.
Yet how healthy can the grassroots of the party be when they elect someone this inexperienced simply because he spouts what social conservatives want to hear?
As far as I'm concerned, this is just more proof the far-right, socially conservative wing of the Ontario PCs is stronger and more organized than leader Patrick Brown would have us believe. This is not a mainstream, moderate party, by any means.