PC MPP Sam Oosterhoff secures Niagara West nomination

PC MPP Sam Oosterhoff secures Niagara West nomination

The youngest politician ever elected to Queen's Park will carry the Tory banner again in 2018 after securing the nomination in Niagara West and beating a challenge from a party vice-president for the second time.

PC MPP Sam Oosterhoff, 19, beat out Grimsby regional councillor and party executive Tony Quirk on Tuesday, 903 to 313.

"For the past few months I've been doing my best to listen to the concerns and priorities of people on the doors, on the phones and everywhere I can connect with constituents, to ensure that Premier [Kathleen] Wynne understands that Niagara West-Glanbrook is not forgotten. Now that I've been selected as the candidate for Niagara West, I want to thank all of you," Oosterhoff said moments after the announcement was made.

Asked about being challenged by Quirk, who had helped run his successful byelection campaign, Oosterhoff said he would "let bygones be bygones."

Quirk said he was happy people in Niagara West were given the choice to pick who would run for them in 2018.

"As with every time I've been involved with the party, I will support our candidate in the next election and I will continue to do so," Quirk said after the vote was announced.

PC Leader Patrick Brown, who supported Oosterhoff's nomination bid, sent his congratulations shortly after the results were revealed.

“Since his by-election victory in November, Sam Oosterhoff has been a strong voice for his community at Queen’s Park," Brown said in a statement. "Tonight, his hard work on behalf of his constituents paid off. Sam is also the youngest Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario’s history, and I am glad to have his perspective on our team."

Hundreds of Progressive Conservatives packed the West Niagara Agricultural Centre Tuesday evening to pick their candidate for the June 2018 election – a somewhat rare occurrence considering sitting MPPs such as Oosterhoff do not usually come up against a contested nomination.

Both contenders delivered brief speeches before polls opened, just before 6 p.m.

Quirk gave Oosterhoff “full credit” for the work he’s done thus far, but said he decided to make a play for a nomination a second time because he has heard people want a more experienced representative at Queen’s Park.

“What I’ve heard is, as we go into 2018, people that I’ve been talking to are asking for someone with just a little bit more experience – a little bit more business experience, a little bit more personal life experience, a little bit more political experience.”

Quirk added that because the new electoral boundaries have brought different people into the riding, they should have a shot at picking their candidate for the next election.

Aaron Oosterhoff, who managed his brother’s first nomination campaign, said he did not believe the suggestion that constituents may be “disappointed” with the incumbent MPP’s performance.

His brother Sam then told the room the governing Liberals had made Ontario a “have not” province, that the impact of an overbearing government could be felt by all families, and that he is committed to ensuring parental rights are respected in education.

“I believe that you, the hardworking taxpayers of Niagara – you know what’s best for your family – not out-of-touch Toronto elites,” he said.

Oosterhoff won the Niagara West-Glanbrook seat in last November’s byelection to replace former PC leader Tim Hudak. At the time, Hudak had endorsed Quirk for the nomination, who placed last, behind Oosterhoff, PC party president Rick Dykstra and businessman Mike Williscraft.

Dykstra, who was at Tuesday’s nomination meeting, isn’t ruling out a run for another seat, noting much of his support during the byelection came from the western part of Niagara West-Glanbrook, which will be part of the new Flamborough-Glanbrook riding under the new electoral boundaries. For now, he said, he is “100 per cent focused” on doing the job of PC party president.

“I haven’t made up my mind on anything like that,” Dykstra said. “I did have a lot of support from that area of the riding. I certainly would be honoured to represent the people of Flamborough [Glanbrook].”

Dykstra also denied allegations by pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition that the “party establishment,” were attempting to oust Oosterhoff for his social conservative views.

“I have 124 ridings that need to have solid candidates in them, and my job is to be neutral in each one of those nomination contests,” he said.

Sabrina Nanji

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