The new MPP for the Ontario riding of Niagara-West Glanbook is Sam Oosterhoff, who won the safe Progressive Conservative riding after the resignation of former party leader Tim Hudak.
Oosterhoff is 19-years-old. Someone who will probably not help him celebrate his 20th birthday is Michael Coren, erstwhile conservative Catholic, now Anglican convert, and new columnist for the United Church Observer among other publications. The author of Why Catholics Are Right, and former staple of the pro-life speaking circuit, currently finds Oosterhoff’s socially conservative beliefs much too, don’t you know, divisive.
“Social conservatives in Ontario PC party ranks are rejoicing,” Coren tells readers of NOW Toronto, who could not be otherwise expected to guess. “To be sure, Oosterhoff's nomination win is part of a greater, deeper division in the Ontario PC party between the mainstream and the Christian right. Oosterhoff is himself firmly entrenched in the latter. A member of the Spring Creek Canadian Reformed Church in Vineland, he embraces a strict Calvinist theology that is far to the right of most other Reformed Christians in Canada. That’s his absolute right, of course, but his refusal to work on Sundays could be an issue, as could his resolute stance against abortion for any reason and vehement opposition to the new sex ed curriculum, which has already brought him into direct conflict with his leader.”
One looks forward to the United Church Observer column where Coren tells his readers that they embrace a theology far to the left of most other mainline Protestants in Canada.
Coren is right about a division in the Ontario PC party, however. It is one precipitated by the leader, Patrick Brown, who tries to be all things to all people, but not in a St. Paul kind of way.
Brown is a young man in a hurry, much older than Oosterhoff but still shy of 40. An MP in the Harper government, he ran for the PC leadership in Ontario as an outsider against the party establishment. He aggressively courted social conservative voters, boasting of his socially conservative record in the House of Commons, and defeated the establishment candidate, Christine Elliott, long time MPP and widow of Jim Flaherty. A young, socially conservative outsider taking on the party establishment? Shouldn’t Brown have loved Oosterhoff?
The old Patrick Brown of 2015 would have. But not now. Why? Because it’s 2016. After his election as leader, Brown rather rudely bid farewell to the social conservatives, telling them he would like their votes but otherwise they should shut up.