Niagara West MPP Responds to Reporter’s Query Over Calling Police on Senior’s Book Club

“I agree that things could have been handled     differently.”  – Sam Oosterhoff, MPP and Ford Government member for Niagara West

 

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

Posted May 9th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

In the wake of a May 7th incident at Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s Beamsville constituency office involving members of a senior’s book club and Niagara Regional Police, I contacted Oosterhoff’s office via email this May 8th for the MPP’s take on what went down.

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, a Christian concervative, seen here in April, 2018, sharing a few verses of a gospel song on TVO’s public affairs program, The Agenda, hosted by Steve Paikin.

The incident, which began when about 15 seniors from Niagara showed up at the office carrying books and determined to stage a “read-in” to protest recent Fort government funding cuts to public library, ended with three armed police officers showing up, and I wanted to know from the MPP why he and his office staff felt the call to police was necessary – especially given the fact that the officers on hand concluded that the seniors had done “nothing wrong.”

I finally received an email back from an office staff member, with a statement from the MPP, at about 9:30 p.m. this May 8thy, a few hours after I posted my commentary on what I’ve taken to calling ‘the great senior’s book club bust’.

Here is what it had to say –

“Thank you for reaching out,” wrote a staff member in reply to my query. “Below is a statement from MPP Oosterhoff regarding yesterday’s (May 7th) protest.”

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff

“I agree that things could have been handled differently,” the MPP began, “but my team and I take the privacy of constituents very seriously. We will be reaching out to these constituents to set up face to face meetings to discuss their concerns.

“Citizens are of course always allowed to protest, but not at the expense of other individuals and their privacy. We handle sensitive and private information, and it is important that my constituents’ privacy is protected.

“We will also be going over security procedures and protocols to make sure we do better in the future. I look forward to meeting with constituents from across the riding to bring forward their priorities, as their representative.”

There you have it, and it may be as close as we are  going to get to the apology Jeff Burch, an NDP MPP for the neighbouring riding of Niagara Centre, suggested that Oosterhoff give to the 15 or so book-bearing seniors in a statement he issued following the incident.

Meanwhile, comments on the issue continue to come from other residents across the Niagara area, including a few I will post for you below –

“What next? Book burning like NAZI Germany? Oosterhoff should listen to his elders. He might actually learn something.” – from Linda McKellar, Fort Erie, Ontario.

“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.” – from Doug Youmans, St. Catharines, Ontario.

And here is one I found circulating on Facebook this May 8th, from Peter Gill, a retired Niagara Regional Police officer –

To read the commentary Niagara At Large reporter Doug Draper posted this May 8th on this incident, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2019/05/08/if-you-are-a-senior-citizen-in-ontario-and-youre-holding-a-book-in-your-hand-you-better-watch-it/ .

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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4 responses to “Niagara West MPP Responds to Reporter’s Query Over Calling Police on Senior’s Book Club

  1. Thank you, Doug, for making it clear that this was a protest, not an attempt to meet with Mr. Oosterhoff, who was of course at Queen’s Park. I can understand that constituency office staff — who are not political players and do not have any role in legislation — might feel intimidated. I do not condone what was an over-the-top reaction by staff, especially since the whole incident was resolving peacefully before the police showed up. Nevertheless, I suggest that this group was ill-advised to decide to protest in this manner. If you have a political point to make to your MPP, make it to him, not to his staff.

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  2. Some ten and more years ago a group of hospital-ER-closure protesters (the ‘yellow-shirts’ in Niagara) marched and protested repeatedly with little or response at all (except for news support in NAL). I only wish we had had the same kind of police and public reaction this library book-bearing elder group is getting. Perhaps then we’d still have our hospital emergency rooms. I cheer on this book-bearing bunch!

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  3. Why, in heavens name, would the Police respond to this? Innocuous incidents, such as these, are not what I want my tax dollars going to; they must have better things to do than allow this wet-behind-the-ears knob to summon the power of the State to remove peaceful protestors.

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  4. Robert McMaster

    My late wife (Mona McMaster) was a member of the Lincoln Library staff at both the Beamsville and Grimsby branches until her passing.
    I’m sure she would have been right in the centre of this group, with the biggist book and loudest voice.

    To many, LIBRARIES are as sacred as most churches, and as educational as most Universities.
    THREE CHEERS for the BOOK BARING SENIORS!!

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