Kingston and the Islands MPP Ian Arthur has complained to the provincial integrity commissioner, alleging that Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston MPP Randy Hillier used constituent information for partisan purposes without their consent.
In a letter shared with Global News, Arthur said his office received information from two constituents claiming that Hillier obtained their personal information through “casework” and used it to sign them up for both the People’s Party of Canada and Hillier’s No More Lockdown group mailing lists.
Global News was given access to an email chain from one of these constituents, Rob Briden, who said he confronted Hillier when he received an email from the No More Lockdown group.
Briden says he originally contacted Hillier years ago about an employment standards claim, and was then signed up for Hillier’s MPP newsletter.
But on Aug. 31, Briden instead got an email asking him to support two local PPC candidates at a meet and greet that Hillier was also attending.
“Meet the champions of freedom who will end the vaccine passports, end the lockdowns, end mandatory vaccines, and return freedom on September 20th,” the email reads.
Briden contacted Hillier back via email, asking the MPP if he shared Briden’s personal information with the lockdown group, to which an email allegedly from Hillier said: “I own No More Lockdowns.”
When Briden protested to allegedly having his information shared, the email sent from what seems to be Hillier’s email address said: “I’m sorry you believe freedom is spam, I was under the impression freedom & Justice was somewhat important to you. You can unsubscribe at any time.”
This is when Briden decided to go the next riding over and ask Arthur’s office for help.
“I’m sure there’s people working on No More Lockdowns that aren’t on a provincial salary with those sort of security protocols in place. So I have no faith that my data is being protected,” Briden said in a phone interview Thursday.
Global News was given access to another complaint from a second constituent, who did not want their name shared publicly, but who also claimed to have been signed up for PPC and No More Lockdown emails after contacting Hillier in the past through his role as MPP.
Hillier has spent the majority of the pandemic campaigning with the No More Lockdown group against COVID-19 measures implemented by the province. He has been charged multiple times at these events for allegedly holding gatherings larger than limits allowed.
He has been serving the region as an Independent MPP since he was kicked out of the PC caucus in 2019, and has not officially announced any affiliation with the PPC party, but has been seen at events alongside leader Maxime Bernier.
Arthur said he received the two complaints separately over the weekend and felt it was his duty to act, even though neither person was in his own riding.
“The MPP’s office is a non-partisan office and it’s here to serve the entire community,” Arthur said in an interview Thursday.
MPPs get contacted for myriad reasons, Arthur said, and it’s made clear to anyone working in a constituency office that personal information is not to be used for personal or partisan reasons.
“It might be people who have to interact with the Family Responsibility Office, which can mean if they’re interacting with the office, they’re going through a tremendously difficult time in their lives. They can’t worry that that information is going to be taken and shared publicly,” Arthur said.
The Kingston and the Islands MPP sent his concerns to the integrity commissioner Tuesday, and said he has since heard back with next steps, which includes instructions to submit his concerns to the Speaker of the house.
“We have to go through the technical steps in order to move this forward. But it seems to certainly be something that integrity commissioner wants to hear about,” Arthur said.
In his letter, Arthur called Hillier’s actions “a distinct violation of constituent confidentiality.”
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner confirmed to Global News that Arthur has indeed been in touch with the complaint, and was given the proper procedure to file a grievance.
“Once a request is made under this procedure, the commissioner will review the matter and determine whether it is within his jurisdiction,” a commissioner spokesperson said.
The commissioner is required to file a public report even if he does not take up the matter, the spokesperson said.
For his part, Briden unsubscribed from the No More Lockdowns mailing list, but said he’s still signed up for Hillier’s newsletter.
“It’s unfortunate that I have to be the one to separate his pet projects from his responsibilities and that he can’t do that on his own,” Briden said.
Hillier has yet to respond to multiple requests for comment.