An excerpt from my latest Loonie Politics column. Read the full piece here. If you aren’t a subscriber yet, use promo code ‘Lawton’ for a discount!
Those who go into politics may surrender some of private life’s comforts, but that doesn’t mean public service should be a free-for-all.
Especially when it comes to elected officials’ families.
It’s hard to find civility on social media, however, where a St. Catherines man attempted to spark a Christmas Day flash mob at Progressive Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s parents’ house.
“This Christmas, let’s protest @samoosterhoff and his bigot, misogynistic and homophobic personality & upbringing,” wrote Rob Gill on Twitter. “Let’s protest at his parents (sic) home at (redacted). Or give them a call at (redacted).”
Included in the original tweet, which has since been deleted, were the Oosterhoff family’s home address and phone number.
The second-term MPP called police upon seeing the tweet, citing concern for his family’s safety. The OPP says it was unsuccessful at reaching Gill by phone, so instead stopped in on him to “caution (him) regarding sharing personal information on social media which could be perceived as harassing.”
Gill himself tweeted about the episode, lauding the officer as “professional and friendly” while labeling Oosterhoff’s call to the police “pathetic” and meant to intimidate.
From a PR perspective, there’s no right answer for Oosterhoff to deal with someone being so demonstrably irrational. Were he to call Gill himself, he’d be similarly accused of trying to intimidate. His way put it to the OPP to decide what the prudent course of action would be.
It sounds as though that’s exactly what happened. The police investigated, had a courteous and professional conversation with the party involved, and moved on without laying any charges. I’m unclear on how this could have unfolded in any better way, except for if Gill had never taken aim at the Oosterhoffs in the first place.