“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”- Mark Twain
After my work here is done protecting human rights in the pro-life movement, I think I’m going to make a movie. It’s going to be called Revenge of the so-cons and it’s going to make it big. I know it. All I have to do is find the “anonymous, fuming, high-ranking Tory” who said this golden quote, to give him his dividends.
I will of course dedicate the movie to Sam Oosterhoff, the first (of many) social conservatives who create major upsets by winning nominations and elections they weren’t meant to win. Although Sam will be in the movie, he won’t be a starring role because by the time the film is made, there will be way too many leads.
In case you have no idea what I’m talking about. Let me fill you in. In September 2016, former PC leader Tim Hudak resigned his seat at Queen’s Park to work in real estate, which meant a by-election needed to take place to fill the empty seat. (When a politician resigns or steps down, a new election must take place between all parties to fill the missing seat in the legislature). In this case, Premier Wynne had six months after Hudak resigned to call a by-election in his riding of Niagara West-Glanbrook. In order to choose who the official candidates would be in the race, each party had to have a nomination meeting. For the PC’s, Hudak’s riding of Niagara West-Glanbrook was a conservative stronghold. Whoever won the nomination would win the election.
In order to win the nomination, Sam had to do three things:
1) Sell more memberships than his opponents (only those who belong to the political party can vote at that party’s nomination meeting. Each person must also be a member 15 days prior to the nomination meeting in order to vote)
2) Campaign to pre-existing members of the PC’s who were already members and voters that he was the better candidate
3) Have enough volunteers on the day of the nomination for GOTV (Get Out the Vote), which meant having enough volunteers call and door-knock on the doors of supporters to remind them to vote and make sure they actually made it to the meeting to vote.
If he sold enough memberships, and had enough volunteers to help him on nomination day, he would win.
And win he did.
What makes this story so newsworthy however, is not that he won the nomination. People across Canada win nominations all the time. Sometimes candidates are even acclaimed because no one runs against them. What makes this story a true David and Goliath tale is that Sam was never meant to win. Rick Dykstra, former MP and current President of the PC Party of Ontario was meant to win. He was “hand-picked” by Patrick Brown, as some would say, to run and win that riding. In most news coverage leading up to the nomination, Sam’s name wasn’t even mentioned. This 19 year-old, first-year university student wasn’t even on their radar. And if he was, he was not even remotely taken seriously.
As Christina Blizzard entertainingly wrote, “Sam Oosterhoff has certainly caused ripples in Queen’s Park, where pundits, critics and assorted hangers-on tend to drink each others’ bathwater and tut-tut over political minutiae. He’s an unknown quantity, who’s upset political rainmakers on many fronts.”
Or the Toronto Sun put it, “Chances are you have never heard of Sam Oosterhoff. But the 19-year-old social conservative and Brock University political science student has become a key figure in Ontario provincial politics.”
Sam went from the ultimate underdog to the official candidate of the PC Party of Ontario to the youngest elected MPP of all time, beating out one heck of a Goliath.
The big question is, how did he do it?
Toronto Start Political columnist Martin Regg Cohn begrudgingly wrote, “This speaks to his mastery of tactics — or more precisely, those in his campaign who knew how to tap into a pool of thousands of parishioners from his traditional church, buttressed by pro-life diehards…”
“That’s the reality of democracy. A party is…hijacked by outside interests… Federal Liberal ridings have also been captured by pro-lifers from time to time…”
There is no doubt that Sam Oosterhoff is a hard-worker, but it was his values and his convictions that helped him defy all odds. Dykstra was one of those “personally pro-life but…” politicians. He voted against C-510 (a bill to stop coerced abortion in Canada), and against M-312 (a motion to study when life began). He was targeted by The Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform for “betraying vulnerable pre-born children”, and has since been caught in other seedy scandals such as buying teenage girls bottle-service at a bar.
As Christina Blizzard put it, Sam Oosterhoff is “a 19 year-old, homeschooled, unapologetic social conservative”. And he did what all nomination candidates need to do: find people with similar values, sell them memberships and make sure they get to the polls. And that’s what he did.
Sam is a perfect example of how being a pro-life candidate doesn’t hurt you, as many left-leaning political pundits would have you believe; it can help you. People want to see politicians stand for something. We know our hydro bills are high. We obviously want to pay less taxes. Those over-used and over-rehearsed talking points only get you so far. Sam was able to tap into a voter block disenchanted by Patrick Brown and his excessive desire to appease the red tories. A voter block that never would have voted for Dykstra. A voter block that have cut up their memberships to the PC party and were told by Patrick Brown that if they don’t like what he stands for, they can “vote for someone else”. A voter block that showed their true power when organized and utilized effectively and strategically to defeat party elites.
Sam won the by-election last night in a landslide. He is now the youngest elected MPP ever in Ontario. He won 53% of the vote in Niagara West-Glanbrook, which was 11 points higher than Tim Hudak (the leader of the PC Party) in the 2014 provincial election.
This is why RightNow was created. As we’ve been saying from the beginning, there are enough pro-life voters to make a difference in nominations and elections. Chances are, if you’re a pro-life Canadian, you’ve never voted in a nomination. We’re here to change that. Our organization exists to tap pro-lifers across the country in to nominations and elections so we can stop losing and start winning. But we can’t do it alone. We need every single pro-life Canadian, whether you are involved in politics or not, to at least do the bare minimum and vote in a nomination. We also need pro-life Canadians to make volunteering for a pro-life candidate during nominations and elections a priority. Election campaigns are not long and are temporary, which means you can easily get involved without changing your life. We know we won’t get everyone, but our goal by the 2019 election is to have groups of 20 volunteers in every single riding across Canada ready to help their pro-life candidate. You don’t need to be a political genius to do this, or even know anything about politics whatsoever. The tasks are easy, but effective, and statistically increase voter supporter turnout by 12%. That can often be the difference between a candidate winning and losing an election.
The best way to affect politics is not to rally. It’s not to attack online. It’s not to protest. It’s to vote, volunteer and win. Pro-life candidates need your help, and they need it right now. If you want to see more victories like Sam’s across the country, then join us today. Whether we pass pro-life legislation both provincially and federally is in your hands. So join us in “pulling a Sam” and help us start racking up those victories once and for all.