MPP Oosterhoff apologizes after criticism over maskless event pictures on Facebook

Sam Oosterhoff Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff issued an apology today after he posted pictures of an indoor gathering Sunday with maskless people in close proximity indoors.

It sparked criticism across social media and drew the attention of Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

The pictures show Oosterhoff posing with a group of 39 people, all standing in close proximity to each other without masks on. The pictures were soon deleted after posting but were screenshotted and shared across social media.

Social media users were quick to criticize the pictures with many noting that his behaviour was against public health guidelines.

Anthony Dale, president of the Ontario Hospital Association, called for Oosterhoff’s resignation (see image).

Twitter capture of Anthony Dale’s Twitter post

Facebook user Katelynne Travis was one of the many people to share these screenshots on the platform. “This pisses me off. We are threatened with fines if we gather more than 10, or with other members outside of our household. We didn’t get to have Thanksgiving dinner, and at this rate, we won’t be able to gather to celebrate my daughter’s first birthday or Christmas, yet he can gather with his friends and family with no social distancing or masks,” she posted.

Jacob Dell, another Facebook user, shared the screenshots and tagged Ford Nation in the post. He said, “MPP’s are just as obligated to follow public health measures put forward, as we the people are supposed to. Sam Oosterhoff, my question to you as a constituent in your riding, is why do you think you can hold a family gathering of this sort, and going against your own government’s public health measures? As well putting your own community at risk. Lastly what disciplinary action should be taken for this?”

Social media users shared similar sentiments in the comments and across posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Oosterhoff apology

Oosterhoff issued this statement in response to the backlash:

“Ontario has a monitored gathering limit of 50 in staffed locations:

‘The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres, banquet halls, gyms, places of worship, recreational sporting or performing art events.’

This was an event at a staffed banquet hall, with under 50 people, including 5 tables limited to ten people at each.

However, I should have worn a mask when we took a quick pic, given the proximity of everyone, and I apologize for failing to do so.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford addressed the issue during a press conference Monday. When asked if he still had confidence in Oosterhoff, Ford said, “I have 100 per cent confidence in Sam, he does a great job representing his area… and he came out and apologized. Everyone makes mistakes. He admitted he made mistakes. I’m a strong believer, that if you make a mistake, you go out and apologize and say it’s not going to happen again – I accept that. He’s a great representative, I’m proud to have him on the team and he’ll continue being the parliamentary assistant to the education minister.”