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Beset by 'radicals and activists', Ross Romano bans office sit-ins

Sault MPP says staff have received threats. OPSEU says it 'scoffs' at the move

MPP Ross Romano found himself on the receiving end of a sound 'scoffing' today courtesy the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) over a sign posted in the door of his constituency office that bans sit-ins.

In a release issued today, the union charges the sit-in ban is a clear attempt to stifle protest at Romano's constituency office.

"We didn't need more proof that this government is a joke, but Ross Romano has gone ahead and given us some anyway," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas in the release. "Talk about amateur hour."

The sign on Romano's Bay Street office, which appeared last week according to OPSEU, includes a list of office hours along with a note at the bottom that reads: "To preserve constituent confidentiality, sit-ins are not permitted in our office."

But Romano deflected OPSEU's scoff, charging that "radicals and activists" have gone too far by "politicizing his office and staff," and that client confidentiality is a legitimate issue for his constituency office.

Romano quipped that he is "not surprised the opposition doesn't understand client confidentiality."

On top of that, Romano said his staff has been on the receiving end of "comments of a threatening nature."

"While it is their right and certainly we have respect for the democratic process and the right to peaceful protests, the protests are not always peaceful," said Romano.

"I was elected to represent everyone in Sault Ste. Marie," Romano said. 

Romano isn't the first Progressive Conservative MPP to take issue with protesters entering a constituency office.

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff cited constituent privacy after his staff called police last month on a group of book-wielding seniors at his Beamsville office. The group of 15 was planning to hold a "read-in" over provincial cuts to library services.

Romano said he wasn't able to comment on the exact date his sign went up. He said constituent confidentiality is a challenge in a group setting, and that he always encourages constituents to speak to him individually.

OPSEU expressed concern that the prevention of sit-ins and "lawful protests" to preserve constituent confidentiality is a guise to "put a damper on protest" and ultimately threaten democracy.