MPP Randy Hillier’s sons arrested at Perth, Ont., bar amid dispute over masks

Ontario independent MPP Randy Hillier speaks to anti-lockdown protesters at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Thursday November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Ontario MPP Randy Hillier says his sons were arrested at a Perth, Ont., bar Friday night amid a dispute over masks.

Hillier, a Kingston-area MPP, sent a letter to the commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police regarding “concerns” over the incident.

“Last evening on Dec. 4, there was another escalation of police actions that on review of the evidence, demonstrates police officers are becoming increasingly belligerent and aggressive towards perceived violations of facial covering policies,” the letter read.

Hillier, who was booted from the Progressive Conservative party in 2019, has been a critic of provincial coronavirus-related restrictions. On Nov. 26, he was charged after organizing an anti-lockdown rally at Queen’s Park.

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In his letter, Hillier said that on Friday night, an individual was escorted out of a pub in Perth, Ont., “for failure to wear a facial covering while drinking with my two sons.”

“Once outside, my two sons attempted to diffuse the outrage of the individual removed from the premises as he was in a highly agitated state,” the letter read.

“As they attempted to de-escalate the situation, my eldest son, Dillon, a Canadian Forces veteran, was thrown to the sidewalk by the police, at which time my youngest son, Clayton, stepped into the unoccupied space between the police and Dillon to act as a shield to prevent further physical violence against Dillon by the police.”

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Hillier said his son Clayton was then Tasered in the back and fell to the ground. Both of his sons were arrested and detained overnight, Hillier said.

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Hillier said Dillon was charged under the Provincial Offences Act for intoxication, while Clayton wasn’t charged and the individual who didn’t wear a mask was driven home by officers and not charged.

When asked about the incident, a spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police referred to a news release detailing a “disturbance” in downtown Perth, Ont., on Foster Street.

The news release said police were called to a bar shortly before 10:30 p.m. and the owner asked officers to remove several people over a mask dispute.

“While one individual left voluntarily, others were escorted from the location,” police said.

“Once outside, individuals refused to leave the area and became assaultive with officers. A conducted energy weapon was deployed and two individuals were arrested.”

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Officers said two males were charged with public intoxication, but would not confirm the names of the individuals as that is not a criminal charge.

Hillier disputed those claims, saying in his letter “there was no physical contact nor threatening nor aggressive behaviour other than that initiated by the OPP constables.”

Hillier said officers need to be better informed about the “broad exemptions” contained within face-covering orders and called for the OPP to stop patrolling retail stores “for perceived facial covering violations.”

— With files from Bill Hutchins 

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