If You Are a Senior Citizen in Ontario and You’re Holding a Book in Your Hand, You Better Watch It!

Cause Some Ford Tories Might Just Have To Call           the Cops on You

A Brief Commentary from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted May 8th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Here’s a warning for you.

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff has been asked for apology for call to police over seniors protesting public library cuts at his Niagara constituency office.

And you better listen up or someone holding elected office just might have to call the cops on you!

Don’t even think about showing up at the constituency office of a member of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s so-called ‘Government for the People” unannounced or without booking an appointment – especially if you are a senior citizen holding a book in your hands or someone in that office may make that 9-1-1 call.

That is apparently the way things went down at the Beamsville constituency office of Niagara West MPP and Ford government member Sam Oosterhoff when, this May 7th, a dozen or so senior citizens from around the Niagara region – some of them using such menacing words to describe themselves as “book lover” and “avid reader” (term one doubts Doug Ford would ever use to describe himself) – showed up at the young MPP’s office to hold a “read in” to protest the government’s recent funding cuts to public libraries.

The seniors, most or all of them members of a book club in the Wainfleet area, entered the office, reportedly to leave a message with Oosterhoff’s staff (the MPP was at Queen’s Park at the time) about their concerns of the cuts to library services across Niagara and the province, when someone on the staff called the police.

“We weren’t noisy,” one member of the group was quoted telling a CBC reporter later. “We were well behaved. Old retired people with library books, what kind of a threat is that?”

Three Niagara Regional Police officers arrived at the scene and talked to the seniors before telling them what everyone else with an ounce of sense already knew – that they had done NOTHING WRONG.

Protest signs like this have shown up across Ontario since Ford government tabled funding cuts this April to province’s public libraries.

This Mary 8th, in the wake of a good deal of news about this book club busting incident, Jeff Burch, the NDP MPP for a neighbouring riding of Niagara Centre, released a statement that read as follows –

“It has been 24 hours since Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff called the police on seniors who wanted to speak to him about how the Ford government’s cuts to libraries would hurt their book club,” said Burch in his statement. “Mr. Oosterhoff has not yet issued a formal apology to the women he attempted to intimidate.”

“These folks did nothing wrong. Too many people in Ontario already feel attacked rather than heard, and they have a right to express their opinions about what is happening to their communities,” added Burch. “Constituency offices are owned and paid for by the people of Ontario and they have a right to feel welcome there. The people of Niagara await Mr. Oosterhoff’s apology.”

Doug Ford, campaigning in Niagara a year ago this spring, now prides himself in leading what he repeatedly calls a “Government for the People”. But what government for the people calls the police on seniors holding a read-in to protest funding cuts to public libraries. In this photo, to Ford’s left, is April Jeffs, who failed to win a seat in last June’s provincial elections in the Niagara Centre riding, but has received a patronage appointment from the Ford government. A former NPCA board member, Jeffs now sits as co-chair on the board of the Niagara Parks Commission and is running for a federal seat for the Tories in the Niagara Centre riding in this fall’s federal elections.

As of the time of this commentary’s posting on Niagara At Large – at around 7 p.m. this May 8th – there was no word of an apology from Oosterhoff or anyone on his staff.

Instead, the 21-year-old MPP posted the following statement earlier in the day on Twitter –

“We deal with sensitive subject matter and constituents deserve privacy when in my office. After the individuals would not leave my office following their protest, in order to protect individuals coming in for private meetings the staff needed assistance to clear the office.”

The staff needed assistance to clear the office. So they called in armed police officers to deal with about 12 to 15 people who, from all the photos I saw of them in newspapers, looked like just about anyone’s picture of the ideal grandparents.

And what is all this worry over “sensitive subject matter” in the office?

In all my years as a reporter, I have walked through the offices of MPPs and MPs to talk to staff or to the elected representatives themselves hundreds of times, as have many others I know, and I have never heard of one case of some constituent’s sensitive information being overheard, seen or compromised in any way.

What do they do in that office, anyway? Leave constituents’ sensitive information sitting on the reception desk? Broadcast phone calls with constituents over the intercom?

Perhaps it’s time for Oosterhoff and his staff to get some training in ‘best practices’ when it comes to running a constituency office.

The whole thing that went down here, including the wasting of our police officers’ time, was outrageous and it is no wonder that almost everywhere I went earlier today, from my own local library to a checkout line at a grocery store, I overheard people calling foul and shaking their heads in disbelief over this incident.

There is an old line that goes; ‘If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen’,

And if Oosterhoff and his staff can’t take a group of seniors holding books who come to protest by holding a read in, maybe they better get out of the kitchen now because the way their political boss, Doug Ford, is slashing services in every area from environmental protection to education and health care, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

The protests are only going to get larger, louder and one hell of a lot hotter – so much so that I predict that Oosterhoff and his constituency office staff will look back with nostalgia and the nice old people from the book club.

Stay tuned.

To read related stories on the “read-in” incident at MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s Niagara West constituency office, click on –

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/oosterhoff-reading-1.5127517

Or click on –

https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news-story/9342729-mpp-sam-oosterhoff-s-office-calls-cops-on-library-loving-seniors/ .

To read commentary posted on Niagara At Large recently on the Ford government’s funding cuts to public libraries, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2019/04/24/only-a-dope-like-doug-ford-would-cut-funding-to-ontarios-public-libraries/ .

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

 A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at http://www.niagaraatlarge.com .

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

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3 responses to “If You Are a Senior Citizen in Ontario and You’re Holding a Book in Your Hand, You Better Watch It!

  1. Doug Youmans

    First, they came for our library cards.
    Science, knowledge and decency are all the enemies of this government, so it hardly seems surprising that when 10 or more seniors express their dissatisfaction with library cuts, Sam Oosterhoff would call in armed police officers. He must have been terrified. I wonder if police used one of those new armoured vehicles they say they need? I think we all would feel safer if these rabble-rousers were behind bars.

    Like

  2. Linda McKellar

    What’s next? Book burning like NAZI Germany? Oosterhoff should listen to his elders. He might actually learn something.

    Like

  3. Were the thin-skinned morons he’s got working for him also home schooled by [bad words removed], far from the real world, or what’s their problem? Having worked with confidential and classified documents for just shy of 40 years, have him give me a call if he needs these ding-dongs educated in how to protect the privacy of documents sitting on desks from the prying eyes of subversive senior citizens, well-read terrorists or other library-loving provocateurs–WITHOUT having to call in the jackboots.

    And just a thought: perhaps it would be best not to waste his time composing some lame-ass song parody about these radicals for Queen’s Park’s next “Tiny Talent Time.” Minister Elliott is dealing with enough health care issues without Singin’ Sam inflicting more of THAT pain. [Although, “The Night Sam Drove Old Dickens Down” could be entertaining.]

    Finally, it might be best for newspapers, newscasts, and websites (including NAL) to refrain from posting the approved press releases with accompanying photo from the good MPP. The constant, insipid grin makes him look (at best) slightly deranged, (at worst) full-blown maniacal and provides unintended context to senior citizens being threatened.

    Like

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