Oosterhoff and the Ford government’s double standard on rule-breaking
This is an excerpt from Ontario Majority, our brand new newsletter covering Ontario politics.
Most Ontarians have been, for months, following public health rules. They mask up, do their best to maintain distancing, and practice hand hygiene.
Those who choose to skirt these rules and refuse to wear masks are – to say the least – not thought of highly. Our Premier has called them “yahoos” and promised to be on them like “an 800- pound gorilla.”
This week, one of Doug Ford’s own MPPs was caught exhibiting some yahoo-like behaviour. Instead of decrying this behaviour, Ford has defended the MPP, calling him a “great representative” who is “doing a great job.” Ford has his back, as he says, “100 percent.”
The Progressive Conservative politician posted – and then quickly deleted – a series of photos showing him at a party with over 40 people. No one is wearing masks and no one is distancing in the photos.
Oosterhoff has maintained that the gathering was well within provincial rules. The restaurant where the gathering was held, however, says differently.
The venue has since revealed that Oosterhoff’s group refused to follow rules and wear masks, even after being reminded several times by the restaurant.
You see, Oosterhoff’s rule-breaking wasn’t a lapse in judgement. His behaviour shows a blatant disregard of the rules. To be frank, it’s exactly what we can expect from a group of Conservative politicians that see themselves as above the law. (Think back to Ford himself breaking his own rules: going to his cottage, having visitors for Mother’s day, and attending a large wedding)
Like his peers, Oosterhoff has gotten away with it. He gets to keep his job and extra pay for being the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education. For his error he didn’t even receive a slap on the wrist, let alone a televised “talking-to” from the Premier.
For the rest of us, a different set of rules apply. Any other 23-year old caught gathering with half the number of people would be the topic of Doug Ford’s daily press briefing.
This same week, a music teacher was charged and fined $1000 for failing to wear a mask. The same rule-breaking behaviour, completely different consequences.
There’s just one difference. Teachers are being forced by provincial guidelines and plans that have packed 30+ students into small classrooms. In this scenario, social distancing is next to impossible.
It may have been this teacher’s choice to not wear a mask, but they didn’t choose to work in a jam-packed classroom.
That was the political choice of Ontario’s Education Minister and his right-hand man, Sam Oosterhoff. The very same person who chose to get dozens of people together at a restaurant, chose to squeeze together for photos, and chose to skirt COVID-19 rules.
When you’re one of Doug Ford’s MPPs you can blatantly ignore the rules and face no consequences. But if you’re an average person, you’re looking at a hefty fine and a public shaming.
Sign up to get Ontario Majority
A weekly newsletter on the issues that matter to the majority of Ontarians.