St. Catharines man says MPP Sam Oosterhoff used police as ‘muscle’ after tweet


A St. Catharines man says a police officer who visited him at home after he tweeted out the address and phone number of MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s parents is an example of a politician using law enforcement as « muscle » to scare him.

But Oosterhoff says the tweet crossed a line and he contacted police over fear for his family’s safety.

A spokesperson for Niagara police confirmed the service received a call about « potential harassment » in the form of a home address being shared on social media on Dec. 28.

Rob Gill took to Twitter after seeing a video of the Niagara West MPP along with Premier Doug Ford smiling and clapping during a Christmas celebrating hosted by Canadian Christian College president Charles McVety.

In the since-deleted social media post, Gill wrote « This Christmas, let’s protest @samoosterhoff and his bigot, misogynistic and homophobic personality & upbringing. Let’s protest at his parents home … or give them a call. »

The tweet included both the family’s address and their phone number, along with the hashtag #hateraiseshate.

« I know some people might say ‘Why did you do that? It’s stepping over the line.’ I don’t think it’s stepping over a line because that’s information that’s in the public domain, » explained Gill. « That’s information someone can choose to keep public or keep private and they’ve chosen to keep it public and this is the result of that. »

He added he deleted the tweet shortly after posting it because it wasn’t getting a lot of « traction. »

MPP says he feared for family’s safety

In a statement to CBC News, Oosterhoff said he appreciates hearing both positive and negative feedback from constituents, but the tweet and « disparaging language » in this case led him to contact the Niagara Regional Police.

« Fearing from my family’s safety I contacted the police, » he wrote. « The police followed their own protocol and I am very grateful for their dedication to our community. »

To have a politician use police as some kind of muscle isn’t cool.– Rob Gill

Gill said he didn’t threaten Oosterhoff and has tried to start a dialogue with him over his personal beliefs in the past through Twitter and by phone, but has never heard back.

« At no point do I ever wish any harm against him or his family or loved ones. At the same time, if he’s going to continue to bring his private religious views into his public office he needs to be prepared for people protesting him at any means we can figure out. »

When Gill saw the video of the politician standing with McVety, who has previously said he’s against the former Liberal government’s sex-ed curriculum and same-sex marriage, he was motivated to speak out.

« If you’re an elected official you represent all Ontarians, regardless of their sexual orientation, their socioeconomic status, their beliefs, their skin colours, all Ontarians. »

Gill is gay and married to a man from Brazil where far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, who has made derisive comments about black and gay people, will be sworn in as president Tuesday.

« [My husband] comes from a place where you can’t speak your mind and if you speak your mind you risk losing your life, » explained Gill. « So have the police appear at our home, for me speaking my mind is a big issue.

« To have a politician use police as some kind of muscle isn’t cool. »

Police received call about ‘potential harassment’

Niagara police spokesperson Stephanie Sabourin​ said after receiving the call about the potential harassment, an officer wasn’t able to reach the person who posted the address by phone so stopped by on Dec. 29 to « caution them regarding sharing personal information on social media which could be perceived as harassing. »

No charges have been laid.

Sabourin added that with the popularity of social media, when possible, police try to inform and educate members of the public about what could be « potentially deemed criminal in nature. »

Gill said he’s aware of the law and didn’t need a « lecture. »

He said the officer who knocked at his door around 9 a.m. and said he had done nothing wrong, but Oosterhoff had complained about some of the things he was posting online.

At the end of a five-minute conversation the they shook hands and the officer went on his way.

« At no point did he caution me about further engaging with Mr. Oosterhoff online or charge me or cite me or anything, » said Gill.

« I found it really odd that we have the police attending my home, unannounced, when no crime has taken place to lecture me on what a law is. I found that really strange and kind of a waste of police resources. »

But a spokesperson for Oosterhoff said it is her understanding that  Gill was cautioned by police about communicating with him and disclosing personal information through social media.


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Suspected drug dealer on an e-Bike busted in St. Catharines – Hamilton


A suspected drug-dealer on an e-bike has been busted in St. Catharines.

Suspected bank robber wanted in Niagara Falls

Niagara Regional Police say the investigation into the sale of crystal meth in the city started last month and since then, officers have observed several suspected drug transactions by an individual on an e-bike.

Police say it led to the arrest of 42-year-old Edward Ley and the seizure of narcotics and cash worth over $10,000.

Suspicious package disposed of in St. Catharines

The accused will appear in court Tuesday on several charges including possession for the purpose of trafficking.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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5 Essential Vegan-Friendly Spots to Explore in St. Catharines


With its famously majestic waterfalls and fertile fields, Canada’s bountiful Niagara Region has long been associated with earthly wonders. From rolling hills lined with neat rows of carefully tended grapevines to roadside stands overflowing with ripe fruit, this green stretch of the world is a must-visit for anyone who appreciates pristine produce bursting with flavor. It only makes sense, then, that the area’s largest city, St. Catharines, is home to an impressive, burgeoning vegan dining scene. With this in mind, we recently went on a quest for plant-based perfection; these are the five spots that any self-respecting vegan (and vegetable lover) should have on their must-visit list.

Rise Above

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First stop on “Operation Vegan”? Rise Above. The Niagara Region’s first 100-percent-vegan restaurant and bakery promises to be an oasis for those seeking meat- and dairy-free comfort food and fresh-baked goods, and we’re not disappointed. We order the “cheddar” macaroni and cheese, which comes smothered in a velvety cashew cheese sauce and topped with a crunchy broccoli crumb, and the curried cauliflower tacos, packed with spiced chickpeas, tahini, and crispy jalapeños. We’ll most certainly swing back around at Sunday brunch for the weekly pancake special, which can come topped with anything from a sweet-tart peach crumble to a sticky mix of banana slices, walnuts, and toffee.

Bella Noella’s Pizzeria

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Bella Noella’s is practically next door to Rise Above, so we pop over for a few slices of hot pizza. We soon realize there’s no need to feel like the odd one out when dining with dairy-eating friends at this quaint, brick-walled spot, because nearly all of its 20-plus pies can be vegan-ified and made with gluten-free crust. We go for the “Hawaiian,” which comes topped with pineapple, jackfruit, and marinara sauce, and the “Greek,” which is piled high with pesto, spinach, red onion, tomatoes, and black olives. The pies run big—they fill an entire plate!—but we’re not complaining.

The Lemon Tree

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Next up, we pile in the car and drive across town to The Lemon Tree. (Don’t worry, it’s only 10 minutes away—that’s the benefit of a small town!) It doesn’t look much different from any other strip-mall restaurant at first blush, but once inside we see what the hubbub is about: Owners Billy and Isabella Qorri gave the menu a complete vegan makeover in March. Instead of squid, the “calamari” features delicately battered and deep-fried root vegetables served with house-made tzatziki. We’re also keen on the savory spinach burek pastries, here constructed with flaky layers of vegan pastry and plant-based feta cheese. Of course, we can’t leave without ordering a fat burger made with Beyond Meat, the meat substitute that’s earned a cult-like following thanks to its ability to “bleed” ruby-red beet juice. Go for dessert, too: Today’s special—a vegan Ferrero Rocher-inspired confection packed with hemp hearts, flax seeds, and coconut—makes our eyes roll into the backs of our heads.

Beechwood Doughnuts

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Moving further into the sweet portion of our tour, we head to Beechwood Doughnuts’ petite glass-enclosed storefront. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went out of his way to visit this vegan establishment on a trip to the region in 2016, opting for a half-dozen piping-hot, made-fresh-on-site doughnuts blanketed with a craggy topping of cinnamon and sugar. It’s hard to decide what to order—the shop cranks out more than 20 varieties in all, with a menu that rotates daily—but we finally settle on two: a chocolate-glazed s’mores offering capped with a torched marshmallow and a golden-hued tropical number smothered in a sugary dip spiked with orange, pineapple, mango, passion fruit, and guava. We’re pretty sure Justin would approve.

Hometown Ice Cream

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We save just enough room for a few final treats at Hometown Ice Cream. You won’t find a lick of additives or preservatives in this shop’s all-natural, from-scratch frozen goodies, which span ice cream, sorbet, and sherbet. We go for scoops of the dark rum-infused piña colada and roasted peach sorbet, plus a few classics like chocolate and cookie dough. We can’t say no to the homemade pop tarts, though: The jammy, all-vegan raspberry-rhubarb flavor is a real winner, as is the zingy and sweet peach-ginger flavor. Both come slicked with icing and finished with a flourish of sprinkles, and we’re not mad about it.

After making the rounds at the best vegan spots around St. Catharines (and testing the limits of our belt buckles), we had to call it a day. But you can bet we’ll be back.


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Around the World in St. Catharines


Just north of the U.S.-Canada border and a quick drive from Niagara Falls, the quaint enclave of St. Catharines, Ontario, is a not-so-hidden gem, world-famous for its abundance of winding vineyards, fruit orchards, and rich farmland. Though modestly sized with a population of just 133,000, St. Catharines boasts a mighty dining scene that punches far above its weight class. One of the brightest stars in its colorful constellation of restaurants is oddBird, the eclectic eatery from chef-partners Scott White and Justin Duc. The duo’s menu changes often and on a whim, and influences are far-flung and far-ranging: Here you’ll find anything from a blood-red horse heart tartare to sticky-sweet General Tso’s duck breast to a massive côte de boeuf taco platter. But where do White and Duc eat when they’re not in their own kitchen? To find out, the pair took us on a flavor-filled tour of their city’s global gems.

Ma Chinese Cuisine

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First we stroll up to Ma, one of White and Duc’s favorite haunts for Chinese eats. Though ensconced in an impressive red brick building dating back to the turn of the last century, it’s the interior that’ll really make you gasp. “It’s just a gorgeous, wonderfully designed space,” Duc said, his eyes darting around the dramatically lit dining room decked out with a wood-beam ceiling, stone floors, and industrial accents. We sit down and scope the menu, which delivers flavors straight from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chongqing, and beyond. “Not only is the lobster juicy, tender, and deeply fragrant, it’s one of the most spectacular looking things you can get here,” Duc said, pointing to the gargantuan crustacean at the center of the table. We’ve ordered it sauteed with flavor-packed peanuts and crispy fried garlic, but you can also get it with ginger and scallions, underneath mountains of diced garlic, or wok-baked with soy sauce. Other can’t-miss menu items? Anything on the dim-sum menu, which includes authentic nosh like delicate steamed-shrimp dumplings and golden-hued egg tarts, not to mention the elegantly plated Peking duck. “It’s refreshing to have real Chinese food in St. Catharines, and not just some Americanized version of Chinese food,” White said. “This place is the real deal.”

Lang Restaurant

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Just three blocks away, our taste buds shift from China to Vietnam. Grilled meat and hot pot are the dual focuses of Lang BBQ, which White and Duc dig for its bang-on flavors and homey atmosphere. The duo make quick work of the menu, ordering up slivers of fatty pork belly, springy squid balls, and coins of lotus root to simmer in fragrant broth. While it bubbles away, we spark up the grill built right into the table and char slices of curried chicken and Vietnamese sausage over a crackling flame. “It’s a cool family-style thing, really interactive,” said White. “It reminds me of Christmas when I was a kid with my meat fondue!”

Sahla Thai Restaurant

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Less than a 10-minute walk away is Sahla Thai Restaurant, White’s go-to Thai joint. “It’s kind of my family spot,” he said. “We all have our birthdays there.” Without hesitating, White orders a steaming plate of piled-high pad Thai—the classic rice noodle dish stir-fried with shrimp, chicken, eggs, bean sprouts, green onions, and finely chopped peanuts—and follows it up with a creamy bowl of Penang curry enriched with coconut milk, peanut curry sauce, and slivers of beef. “Their curry has just the right level of spice, the perfect consistency, and the flavors are just killer,” he said, spooning the rich sauce over a mound of fluffy white rice.

La Scala Ristorante

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After a five-minute walk down St. Paul Street, St. Catharines’s bustling main artery lined with boutiques and restaurants, we hang a right down a relatively quiet side street to find Italian mainstay La Scala. White and Duc make a beeline for the charming outdoor terrace and snag a table. “It’s got one of the nicest patios in the whole downtown area, plus the food is really authentic Italian,” Duc said. We order a bevy of delights: the panini stuffed with thin slices of prosciutto, roasted red peppers, and creamy fiore di latte; a mound of juicy P.E.I. mussels draped in an anise-flavored black sambuca sauce; a hearty plate of penne classico smothered in a rich homemade sauce of San Marzano tomatoes; and herb-marinated calamari grilled to crispy perfection.

Chile & Agave

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Next up, we pile into the car and drive 10 minutes across town to Chile & Agave for a midday pick-me-up. “It’s probably some of the most authentic Mexican food you can get in St. Catharines,” White said of this colorful hangout jam-packed with vibrant, straight-from-Mexico decor. We opt for specialties including the tacos Yucatan, which come stuffed with jumbo grilled shrimp glazed with tequila-spiked honey, and a platter of flour quesadillas overflowing with tender slices of nopal cactus. Of course, Duc notes, we can’t leave without tossing back a shot or two. “The tequila tasting is always good,” he said.

George’s Greek Village

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Though we’re nearly stuffed, we begin to feel hunger pangs as we drive the five minutes to George’s Greek Village. It’s a miracle! Before we even look at a menu, White puts in an order for the grilled octopus drizzled with ouzo. “It’s rare to find octopus on a menu here, and it’s even harder to find octopus that’s done well,” he explained. “It’s a good indicator of a quality spot.” We round out the meal with the restaurant’s dramatic saganaki—a hearty slab of decadent kefalotiri cheese sauteed in olive oil and flambéed tableside—and a smattering of creamy dips from roe-infused taramasalata to garlicky skordalia.

Our daylong eating tour concluded, it’s finally time for White and Duc to put away their appetites. Or is it? “We’re headed to oddBird,” White said with a laugh. “It’s time to cook dinner.”

Still hungry for more Niagara eats? Visit Niagara has you covered with a rundown of delectable restaurants, wineries, farmer’s markets, and more.


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