A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted October 24th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – Sam Oosterhoff – a 19-year-old Brock University student who was not old enough to vote in the last provincial election – beat the odds this October 22nd to win the Ontario Progressive Conservative’s nomination to run in the Niagara West-Glanbrook Riding in the coming November 19th by-election.
And Oosterhoff could very well go on to win that by-election in a riding that was held by recently retired PC leader Tim Hudak and that is home to small town and rural constituencies that, with very few exceptions, have had a long history of backing Tory candidates at the provincial, federal and municipal government levels.
Oosterhoff’s bid for the nomination barely received a footnote in mainstream media reports leading up to his victory as most of the attention went to presumed frontrunners Rick Dykstra, a former federal Harper Conservative MP from St. Catharines, Grimsby regional councillor Tony Quirk and, to a lesser extent, longtime Grimsby area newspaper owner and editor Mike Williscraft.
For Dykstra, who was also a St. Catharines city councillor before winning a seat in the Harper government in the 2016 federal election, the nomination loss to Oosterhoff came almost a year to the day after he lost his St. Catharines Riding seat to Liberal Chris Bittle.
Not to worry, though.
Dykstra continues to serve in a staff role as president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, just as he has since he ran for that position and was ultimately acclaimed to it last March. It’s just one more example of an individual who has both supported (as he did in the case of the former Ontario Tory regime of Mike Harris) and served in governments that favour the private sector so much over the public sector that they take a meat axe to public services, when they are not scheming to privatize them.
Yet these post-modern -“government isn’t the solution to our problem, it is the problem” -Ronald Reagan types just keep wanting to come back to the public milk jugs for more.
As for Quirk, it’s almost a shame that he didn’t win the nomination so that he might go on to win a seat in the provincial legislature. If he did, it would mean one less member of the cabal of neo-cons now pushing its weight around on Niagara’s regional council, and it might mean less regional councillor sitting on the board of what is left of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (or the ‘Niagara Peninsula Developers’ Authority’, as one might more accurately call this multi-million dollar waste of our tax moneys now).
The unexpected candidacy of Sam Oosterhoff – a member of the millennial generation – may bode well for all three mainstream parties in Ontario if it encourages ever more young people to get engaged in the political process. We could certainly use an infusion of new blood at the provincial, federal and municipal levels of government.
And as I said at the beginning of this one, the young guy could very well win in a Niagara West-Glanbrook Riding where so much of the bedrock beneath one’s feet is Tory blue. It was certainly blue enough to keep Tory MP Dean Allison from suffering the same fate Dykstra did in last year’s federal election.
Then again, in politics it is always risky to bet the whole house and one never knows. One of the two other mainstream candidates in this Niagara West riding – Liberal Vicky Ringuette or NDP Mike Thomas – might defy the odds and paint the riding red or orange.
We shall find out when all the votes are cast and counted this coming November 17th.
Ontario’s Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne issued writs this past October 19th for two by-elections in the province – the one in Niagara West-Glanbrook and another in the Ottawa-Vanier Riding.
They are already being viewed by political observers as dry run for what awaits Wynne’s Liberal government in a general election less than two years from now.
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