Family equality legislation passes with MPPs absent
19-year-old Progressive Conservative candidate Sam Oosterhoff speaks to members of the media following his victory in the byelection in Niagara-West Glanbrook November 17, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett)
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown was on the hot seat Tuesday over the absence of his newest MPP, 19-year-old Sam Oosterhoff, from a key vote on a social issue.
Brown denied Liberal accusations that he’s muzzled Oosterhoff for his social conservative views. But the new Niagara-West Glanbrook MPP, along with a number of Tory MPPs, was not present for the vote on a bill that grants same-sex couples and others who used assisted reproduction to conceive legal recognition as parents. Previously, those same couples had to adopt their own children.
Social conservatives objected to the bill because it used the term “parent” instead of “mother and father.”
Oosterhoff, who has not yet been sworn in as MPP, will officially take his oath Wednesday. Liberal MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers, who won the Ottawa-Vanier seat in the other Nov. 17 byelection, has been sworn in and was present for the vote.
“Sam is having his swearing-in (Wednesday),” Brown said. “I’ve made it clear where I stand on Bill 28.”
Brown said he backed the bill because it struck the “right balance” and noted that he was the only leader who showed up to vote for it. Both Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath were absent from the legislature Tuesday, but have made their support for the All Families Are Equal Act clear.
The law, which will be in force as of Jan. 1, passed the Ontario legislature unanimously.
Asked if Oosterhoff should sit as an independent if he isn’t going to show up for votes, Brown said he expects his new MPP to toe the party line.
“Sam is a team player and we fully expect him to support the direction that I’m taking the party,” he said. “I have confidence that Sam will.”
Deputy Premier Deb Matthews said it’s no coincidence that Oosterhoff and others weren’t there.
“I think you can read into that that they were opposed to the bill,” she said.
- With files from Canadian Press