The youngest MPP in Ontario history faces a nomination battle after boundary change creates Niagara West and puts him and his rival in the same riding.
The youngest MPP in Ontario history is being challenged for his seat just months after being elected.
Progressive Conservative Sam Oosterhoff, who won the Niagara West-Glanbrook byelection last November, faces a nomination battle Tuesday against party vice-president Tony Quirk.
“I’m not sure why Tony is running quite frankly. I was surprised. He was my co-chair of my campaign during the last election,” said Oosterhoff, 19.
“I like to say that one of my best endorsements was Tony’s endorsement so it’s interesting,” added the rookie MPP.
Oosterhoff insisted he’s “not taking anything for granted,” but said he’s pleased to have the backing of Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown and other caucus mates in the contest.
Quirk, 46, finished fourth behind the teen in last October’s Niagara West-Glanbrook nomination.
The Niagara regional councillor and veteran PC operative, now enjoys the support of some of those who last fall voted for runner-up, Rick Dykstra, the Tory party president.
“Sam is a nice young man. He’s intelligent, he’s hardworking – I give him all that – and I was happy to support him in the byelection,” said Quirk.
“But in 2018, we’re going to be forming government,” he said.
“We, as a party, have an obligation to present a slate of candidates who are qualified – with the business, personal, and life experience necessary to make the decisions that are going to affect the people of Ontario.”
Brown, for his part, said he is “supporting all my incumbents” even though he and Quirk are long-time friends.
“I expect Sam to win his nomination,” said the Tory leader.
If Quirk prevails in the vote at the West Lincoln Fairgrounds on Tuesday night, Oosterhoff stressed he would “absolutely” continue to sit as a PC MPP until the next election.
Asked if he would run as an independent next year if he loses the Tory nomination, he said: “Absolutely not. I’m supporting my party.”
The boundaries of Niagara West-Glanbrook, which had been represented by former PC leader Tim Hudak until last fall, are being changed due to riding redistribution.
Quirk and Oosterhoff, who won a resounding 54 per cent of the vote in the November byelection, are squaring off in the new constituency of Niagara West, where both reside.