Police visit man's home after tweet targeting Ont. MPP Sam Oosterhoff
FILE -- Sam Oosterhoff poses for photos with members of his family after being sworn in as the youngest-ever member of the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Wednesday, November 30, 2016. The (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)
Published Monday, December 31, 2018 5:25PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 31, 2018 6:31PM EST
An Ontario man who encouraged people on Twitter to protest against a Progressive Conservative politician at his parents’ home over the holidays, says that he was shocked when a police officer showed up at his door over the weekend.
Rob Gill, a former candidate for city council in St. Catharines, Ont., tells CTVNews.ca that he was awakened by a Niagara Regional Police officer early on Saturday morning. He says the officer told him that police had received a complaint from Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff.
The officer said that, although Gill had done nothing wrong, he “wanted to make sure that I knew where the line was on what could be posted online or not,” according to Gill.
The tweet police referenced said: “This Christmas, let’s protest @samoosterhoff and his bigot, misogynistic and homophobic personality & upbringing. Let’s protest at his parents (sic) home.” It also gave Oosterhoff’s parents' phone number and their street address in Beamsville, Ont.
Gill says that he posted the tweet after seeing a photo of Oosterhoff at an event with an anti-LGBT preacher, and that his missive was a “call to protest.” He says that he included Oosterhoff’s parents’ address because he believes the 21-year-old MPP still lives at home.
Gill says that, although police were polite, he fears that politicians are attempting to use cops as “henchmen” to censor the free speech of citizens.
“Most other people, if cops showed up at their door based on something they posted online even if nothing is wrong, they’d be a little scared, a little intimidated,” Gill said.
“I have a bit of a thicker skin,” he added. “I’m not afraid to call a spade a spade.”
Oosterhoff said in a statement to CTVNews.ca that he appreciates feedback from all constituents and that he values free speech.
“In this case however, an individual posted my parents’ home address and phone number on Twitter and using disparaging language, encouraged the public to protest them,” he wrote.
“Fearing for my family’s safety I contacted the police,” he added. “The police followed their own protocol and I am very grateful for their dedication to our community,” Oosterhoff went on.
A Niagara Regional Police spokesperson said in an emailed statement that they received a complaint of “potential harassment” on Friday.
“Of concern was personal information in the form of a home address being shared on social media,” the statement reads.
“Officers attempted to speak with the author of the social media posts via telephone, but were unsuccessful,” the statement continues.
“On Saturday December 29, 2018 officers on routine patrol in the City of St. Catharines attended a residence to speak with the author and caution them regarding sharing personal information on social media which could be perceived as harassing,” the statement adds.
No charges were laid, according to police.
Gill says that, “to be polite,” he deleted the tweet in question before police showed up at his house and that he now wishes he could resurrect it.
“I don’t regret posting it at all,” he said. “If I had a screenshot of it, I’d post it again.”