May 24, 2018 10:57 pm
Updated: May 24, 2018 11:24 pm

Youthful uprising: Candidates in Ontario riding of Niagara West have an average age of 21

Clockwise from top-left: Incumbent Ontario PC MPP Sam Oosterhoff, 20, Green Party candidate Jessica Tillmanns, 18, Liberal Party candidate Joe Kanee, 27, and NDP candidate Curtis Fric, 20.

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At age 20, Sam Oosterhoff is far and away the most experienced candidate running in the Ontario electoral district of Niagara West-Glanbrook.

The Progressive Conservative became the youngest MPP in the province’s history in 2016 after securing the nomination over future Ontario PC Party president Rick Dykstra, before comfortably defeating his NDP rival to win the seat for the Tories.

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A look at Oosterhoff’s challengers for next month’s clear makes it apparent that youth is the order of the day in Niagara West-Glanbrook — Oosterhoff and his three major-party candidates have an average age of 21 years and three months.

READ MORE: Ontario NDP upswing puts Tories in danger of losing majority, seat projections show

The youngest of the candidates is the Green Party‘s Jessica Tillmanns, who at 18 years old will be voting for the first time.

A bronze medalist in Ontario high school wrestling, Tillmanns is passionate about agriculture, affordable housing and health-care funding, and believes in cleantech innovation as a means of supporting small businesses, creating jobs and tackling climate change, according to her Facebook page.

“My candidacy is proof that youthful enthusiasm and inspiration has taken hold for the political future of Niagara West,” she wrote on Facebook.

READ MORE: Ontario Green Party platform focuses on energy conservation

NDP candidate Curtis Fric, 20, offers further proof of the abounding youthful enthusiasm in Niagara region politics.

The Brock University political science student’s Facebook page says he has worked in area retirement homes for years, and as a result has a first-hand understanding of the impact of long-term care cuts on seniors and their families.

Fric’s website states that he’s “passionate about social justice and meaningful, positive change.”

READ MORE: Andrea Horwath commits to tackling Ontario’s long-term health-care ‘crisis’

At 27 years old, Liberal candidate Joe Kanee is the elder statesman of the bunch.

Alberta-born Kanee works as a director of operations for Body Love Inc., a gym and social club.

Kanee’s website attributes his passion for policy to his father, a longtime labour lawyer.

“From attending union rallies to campaign events to the nightly discussions at the dinner table, Joe was raised to be socially conscious and fiscally conservative and he brings that to the table as a nominee for provincial parliament,” his website states.

READ MORE: Ontario Liberals pledge more access to pensions for province’s private sector workers

The trio have a battle on their hands in trying to unseat Oosterhoff, who defeated his NDP rival by over 9,000 votes to win his legislature seat in a 2016 byelection.

Oosterhoff has served in two standing committees during his time as MPP, and has handled two critic portfolios, namely science and digital government. In November, he brought forward his first private member’s bill, the Compassionate Care Act, which calls for the creation of a provincewide framework devoted to hospice palliative care.

This Nov. 30, 2016 file photo shows Sam Oosterhoff being sworn in as the youngest-ever member of the Ontario legislature.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

A homeschooling graduate and unabashed social conservative, Oosterhoff is pro-life, an opponent of same-sex marriage and a supporter of parental rights in education.

The election is scheduled for June 7.

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