Global News has obtained a letter sent by Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP Randy Hillier to a small group of constituents in which he lashes out at the government and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario for what he calls “childish grievances.”
Hillier was suspended in late February for allegedly directing the words “yada, yada, yada” at parents of children with autism who were in the public gallery to watch debate over changes to the Ontario Autism Program. He issued an apology for the remarks, stating that his comments were directed at a member of the Opposition and not at parents.
Global News subsequently reported that the Ontario cabinet recommended Hillier be permanently kicked out of the PC party caucus.
In the letter obtained by Global News, Hillier wrote: “The truth behind my removal, however, is not due to banter in the House but long-standing tensions between me and Doug Ford’s most senior advisers (Dean French and Chris Froggatt) over what is expected of MPPs in the PC caucus.”
Hillier also alleged that this is not the first incident in which he has encountered attempted coercion and pressure by “backroom party operatives to co-opt my role as an MPP.” He said when he challenged the suspension, “backroom operatives” gave him a “laundry list of questionable and childish grievances.”
“I don’t stand and clap for ministers enough in the House, I wasn’t actively retweeting or sharing Facebook posts about the government’s activities, and that I was ‘putting my constituents and local stakeholders ahead of Party business,’” Hillier said he was told.
The suspended MPP wrote that his focus remains on the people he represents in his Kingston-area riding.
“I have always placed the interests of my constituents and the people of my riding ahead of conventions or meetings of the PC party. I will not apologize for this,” Hillier wrote.
“This is not a question of loyalty to the party but rather an acknowledgment of my overarching responsibility to you as your elected representative in Ontario’s provincial parliament.”
Mark MacDonald, president of the party’s Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston riding association, wrote to Premier Doug Ford on March 4 about Hillier’s suspension.
“I wish to remind you that Randy Hillier’s comment of ‘yada, yada, yada’ was directed [to] the Opposition critic Monique Taylor and not to anybody else, including parents of autistic children,” he wrote.
“As such, the suspension of Mr. Hillier from caucus is based on a falsehood, instigated by people who wish to undermine our PC party and your leadership.”
Brian Patterson, president of the PC party, replied to MacDonald on Sunday. In a letter, Patterson listed a number of examples of Hillier’s behaviour that “demonstrate an apparent lack of commitment to his caucus colleagues and of the government for which he [Hillier] now represents.”
The list included allegations Hillier chose not to attend a three-day caucus retreat held in Waterloo in February, skipped out of attending the PC Party Convention in November, provided a Liberal independent member a question against the government and wasn’t present at various meetings.
“If Mr. Hillier wishes to have a place in the Ontario PC caucus, my advice would be for him to accept responsibility for his past conduct and begin to demonstrate he is willing to change and be part of a team rather than engaging in a public relations exercise, as he has done for the past week, in order to attempt to paint himself as some sort of victim,” he wrote.
In a statement provided to Global News, a spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford said Ford and the PC caucus “are working together every single day to deliver results” for residents.
Simon Jefferies called Hillier’s allegations “patently false.”
“The reasoning behind his suspension was clearly outlined in a letter sent by PC party president Brian Patterson to the local riding association this past Sunday,” Jefferies wrote.
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