Randy Hillier says suspension over more than just comments made at Queen’s Park – Premier Ford says no decision made on permanent ban
Randy Hillier is speaking out about his suspension from the Provincial PC Caucus.
In a letter sent to Lake 88 and other media outlets, Hilier writes that “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 advisors.”
He says he has always placed the interests of constituents ahead of conventions or meetings of the PC Party, and he will not apologize for that. He says that isn’t a question of party loyalty, but rather an acknowledgment of his over-arching responsibility as an elected representative in Ontario’s Provincial Parliament.
When he challenged his suspension, the MPP for Lanark-Kingston-Frontenac said he was given a list of what he calls “childish grievances,” such as not standing and clapping in the house or not sharing government posts in social media.
Hillier says the riding association has started a petition to have him re-instated, saying that public interest and action will be needed to have Premier Doug Ford reverse the decision.
Ford’s office denied the claims made by Hillier and speaking at an event in Cambridge yesterday said, “I can’t say I want him out, but I think we need a little time to run through a few things with Randy,”
The Premier made it clear he sees it as an internal matter. “I’m not going to discuss personnel issues,” said Ford. “Because it is a personnel issue in front of the world.”
He added “I think Randy’s a good man and we’ll sit down and have a chat with him.”
The Premier also said that no decision has been made on a permanent ban.
The following is Hillier’s letter to constituents and the media in its entirety:
As I am sure you are aware, I was recently removed from the PC Caucus, although the Party used the term ‘suspension’ to describe my removal.
Unfortunately the truth in politics can be difficult to discern, as it is often camouflaged with spin and word-smithing to craft a preferred narrative, rather than the truth. 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 advisors (Dean French and Chris Froggatt) over what is expected of MPPs in the PC Caucus.
This is not the first time that I have encountered attempted coercion and pressure by “backroom” Party operatives to co-opt my role as an MPP.
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. This is not a question of loyalty to the Party, but rather an acknowledgment of my over-arching responsibility to you as your elected representative in Ontario’s Provincial Parliament.
When the interests or direction of my Party conflict with local interests, you can be certain I speak out. I have a long history of being vocal with my opinions and advocating for the people I represent. Although my dissent and criticism gets me in trouble with my Party occasionally, there are other trivial and childish expectations of me that have aggravated the situation.
When I challenged the justification for suspension, backroom operatives provided me with 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”. Described in a letter to the media as ‘long-standing concerns’, the only persons who have ever spoken to me about such concerns were Dean French and Chris Froggatt, not the House Leader or Whip.
I had hoped that this issue could be dealt with reasonably and with the mutual acknowledgment that my suspension was the by-product of miscommunication and snap-judgment. Unfortunately it has become abundantly clear that the motivations involved were far more complicated, resulting in discussions and negotiations regarding my return to Caucus becoming stalled. The sticking point is both the substantive matters of conscience and local representation, and the trivial clapping, retweeting and cheerleading.
While I appreciate the significant amount of support from both Party membership across the province as well as local residents, not everyone is aware of the circumstances, which is why I am asking for your support today.
The Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston PC Association has started a petition directed to Premier Ford to have me reinstated to the PC Caucus as soon as possible, and I am asking you to lend your voice to that call. You can sign that petition here. Public interest and action is required to make it easier for the Premier to reverse the suspension that has been imposed upon me by the backroom operatives.
Once again, I thank you for your ongoing support, and look forward to continuing to represent Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston in Ontario’s Provincial Parliament as your PC representative.
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