Niagara MPP Sam Oosterhoff‘s judgment is being questioned yet again after affiliating himself with a group that has compared abortion to the Holocaust.
Oosterhoff, who serves as Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s parliamentary assistant, is scheduled to speak at an event titled “Gen Z: Challenging Abortion in Politics” on Wednesday.
The event is being organized by student-led university groups including University of Ottawa Students for Life, Carleton Life Network and University of Waterloo Students for Life and is being held in collaboration with the National Campus Life Network, which is an anti-abortion youth group.
“MPP Sam Oosterhoff will be speaking about being a young pro-lifer in politics,” organizers say on Facebook. “Oosterhoff is a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and was first elected at the age of 19 in a November 2016 byelection, and is the YOUNGEST Ontario MPP to ever be elected…and he’s a pro-life badass.”
When asked about his involvement with the event, Oosterhoff, through his office, wrote: “I don’t think anyone is surprised to know that I am pro-life. I have always been very clear where I stand when it comes to protecting the right to life.”
The MPP did not provide clarity on if he still planned to attend.
Last month, the National Campus Life Network pinned and posted an article on its Twitter feed about U.S. President Joe Biden’s pro-choice policy, writing, “Making abortions an ‘early priority’ is the same as Hitler who made it an early priority to kill the Jews.”
When asked for comment about the post and Oosterhoff aligning himself with such a group, Premier Doug Ford’s spokesperson Ivana Yelich told Global News in a statement, “While we respect everyone’s right to hold and express their own personal beliefs and views, nothing should ever be compared to the horrific acts committed during the Holocaust.”
Ford reiterated those comments in a press conference Monday afternoon and added, “I’ll be speaking to Sam tonight.”
Noah Shack, vice-president for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said “Holocaust comparisons trivialize the atrocities committed by the Nazis.”
“Making these odious comparisons disgraces the memory of the millions who were murdered and denigrates the experiences of those who survived,” Shack continued.
Ruth Shaw, executive director of the National Campus Life Network, also tweeted a QAnon conspiracy after Biden’s election in November, writing, “The Number of Americans and Canadians celebrating a pedophile becoming President is so gross.”
Oosterhoff’s judgment has been called into question before, including in October 2020 when he was pictured maskless and not social distancing. At the time, the head of the Ontario Hospital Association along with others called for the MPP’s resignation.
In May of 2019, the MPP’s office called police on a group of 15 retirees holding a peaceful silent protest they called a “read in” outside Oosteroff’s Beamsville office. The seniors were upset about provincial library cuts.
Also in that same month, Oosteroff came under fire for attending an anti-abortion rally at Queen’s Park.
“We pledge to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime,” he told the crowd in May of 2019.
Ontario’s Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca is calling for Oosterhoff to be removed from his role as the education minister’s parliamentary assistant.
“This is yet another example of Oosterhoff’s exceptionally poor judgement,” Del Duca tweeted. “It’s inappropriate for the PA to the Min of EDU to attend an event attacking a woman’s right to choose. It’s backwards & regressive, and Sam should be removed from his role as a result.”
Emilie Leneveu, Ontario Liberal Party candidate for Bay of Quinte, issued a statement about Oosterhoff’s involvement with Wednesday’s event, saying in part, “Last week, on International Women’s Day, Doug Ford spoke about his ‘commitment’ to gender equality.”
“One week later, when one of his MPP’s is proudly leading an attack on women’s reproductive rights, he is silent. In a time and age like this — the Premier of Ontario is legitimizing attacks on the reproductive rights of women but allowing one of his own male-caucus members to continue these anti-women attacks,” the statement read.
Leneveu also called on young Ontario women to speak up.
“It’s critical that we use our voice and tell Doug Ford and Sam Oosterhoff that their pathetic views are unacceptable for Ontario in 2021.”
NDP Education Critic Marit Stiles took to Twitter to comment on the event.
“How is this in any way acceptable, let alone for the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education. I would like to see the minister publicly denounce this group… and Oosterhoff should step down. Enough is enough,” she wrote.
Global News reached out to Lecce’s office for comment but as of publication one was not provided.