|Undeniably handsome but dangerous Tory Sam Oosterhoff.|
As his party took office Friday in Ontario, little attention was given to the appointment of parliamentary assistants who also get cabinet ministry offices, a salary top-up and generally help out the full-time ministers with their duties. Sometimes, that means the P.A.s will be given specific policy areas in which to do work, complementing the minister's overall agenda.
But in that Friday announcement was the fact that 20-year-old homeschooled, far-right ideologue Sam Oosterhoff is now Ontario's "Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education."
This is someone who bypassed our public education system in his just-finished teenage years, seemingly because his parents thought something was wrong with it (you know, public schools have to let everyone in including sinners.)
This is the same young man who at age 19, despite few qualifications, managed to sign up enough of his church to steal the local PC nomination in the conservative stronghold of Niagara West in 2016, thus paving the way for his election to Queen's Park.
This is the same inexperienced ideologue who is on record cynically calling homosexuality a "sin" somehow worse than other "sins." He also has voiced support for a literal interpretation of the bible and spoken out against Christians who “have no problem with homosexual behaviour and see it as a healthy form of human sexuality.”
He even went out of his way to endorse the horrid Tanya Granic Allen, whose anti-gay views were so bad that even Doug Ford had to fire her as a Tory candidate.
Oosterhoff's world clearly doesn't include LGBT people.
And now he gets to stand next to Education Minister Lisa Thompson from Huron-Bruce as the Tories implement their education agenda including revisiting the public school curriculum, which finally currently acknowledges the existence of LGBT people in our society, promotes respect for all and tries to teach the importance of consent. Far-right bigots who don't want their kids to know homosexuality exists, and seemingly don't have a problem if their kids only learn about sex on the internet, don't much like the modernized curriculum and Doug Ford and other Tories were more than happy to use that ignorance to win votes.
This appointment of a homeschooled ideologue is a slap in the face to every parent who sends their kids to the public education system. It's also a vicious slap in the face to every LGBT youth struggling to survive that system. Once the Tories have their way with the curriculum, we'll probably see similar attacks on Gay-Straight Alliances in our schools.
The last Tory government under Mike Harris was also hostile to public education as they declared war on all teachers and starved the system of needed funds while implementing tax credits for rich parents who sent their kids to private schools. The vast majority of Ontario parents who can't afford that will soon feel similar stings, I'm sure, as Ford forces new unnecessary labour disruptions and cutbacks.
No doubt his promise not to lay off anyone will soon go the way of all Ford promises: into the waste basket.
My condolences to parents who will suffer as folks who don't believe in public education are tasked with managing it. And I promise to stand beside all LGBTQ youth as they face new attacks from a hostile government happy to play footsie with bigots.
Who wants to bet we'll see our first strikes or lock-outs of teachers in 2019?