“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.
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.”
“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/ .
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