ONTARIO — A 19-year-old homeschool graduate has become the youngest in Canada to win a parliamentary seat, closing out his opponents with over 50 percent of the vote.
Sam Oosterhoff beat out New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate Mike Thomas, 61, and Liberal Party candidate Vicky Ringuette, 37, on Thursday, receiving 54 percent of the popular vote.
He had taken leave of his political science studies at Brock University to run in the Niagara West-Glanbrook by-election for the past year. Oosterhoff now plans to take classes by night while taking over the seat held by longtime Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.
“Today we sent a very strong message to Premier (Kathleen) Wynne: People are fed up. People have had enough of soaring hydro rates. People have had enough of cuts to health care,” he declared to supporters following his win.
Oosterhoff, who identifies as pro-life and pro-family, is a member of the Canadian Reformed Church. He declared in his candidacy that he would be “a voice for common-sense, pro-family policies and concerns” in the government.
“I will never waver in my support of parents as primary educators, and I will strive to ensure that parental rights are respected in education,” Oosterhoff had outlined on his campaign website.
He also campaigned on supporting local industries and cutting unnecessary government projects.
“I will defend and promote the unique industries that make our region great, from our soft-fruit producers, to our family farms, to the dozens of local manufacturers that provide stable, well paying jobs,” he vowed.
Some believe that voters selected Oosterhoff in part due to their concerns over Premier Kathleen Wynne’s updated health syllabus/sex-ed curriculum, but the Star reports that the candidate declined to state his position on homosexuality and same-sex parenting.
“The young MPP evaded questions on whether he believes homosexuality is a sin and whether he will support Bill 28, which will make it easier for lesbian and gay parents to have children,” it reported.
“I believe we need to treat everyone with dignity and respect,” Oosterhoff replied to the questions. “I reach out to all communities.”
He will now receive over $100,000 a year for his service.
“I am humbled by the tremendous support of the people of Niagara West—Glanbrook today. I intend on fighting for them as their representative and I look forward to joining Patrick Brown’s PC team at Queen’s Park,” Oosterhoff said in a statement on Thursday.
“Today, once again the Ontario PCs were chosen over Kathleen Wynne’s tired, scandal-plagued Liberal Party,” he said. “We will work to hold them accountable while building an even stronger party that will be competitive in every region of this province in 2018.”