Ottawa

MPP Randy Hillier blames premier's office for his suspension

The eastern Ontario MPP who's been suspended from the PC caucus says it's because of tensions with the premier's senior advisors, not comments he made in question period.

Letter says it's over a lack of 'clapping, retweeting and cheerleading' for PCs

MPP Randy Hillier holds his first 'telephone town hall' since he was kicked out of the PC caucus in March 2018. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

A provincial politician who was suspended indefinitely from the Progressive Conservative caucus last month says he was removed for clashing with some of the premier's most senior advisers.

In a letter to party members in his rural eastern Ontario riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, Randy Hillier claims he wasn't suspended for comments he made in the legislature, as Premier Doug Ford has said. 

He blames long-standing tensions with two of Ford's senior advisers over what's expected of caucus members.

Hillier, a veteran Tory legislator known for being outspoken, said he challenged the justification for his suspension and was given a list of what he called "questionable and childish grievances" by backroom operatives.

Among them, he alleges, were complaints he didn't clap enough at Queen's Park and wasn't actively sharing posts about the government's activities on social media.

Ford has said Hillier was suspended for comments he made as parents of children with autism packed the legislature's galleries in protest of the government's recent funding changes.

Some of the parents said that Hillier said "yada yada yada" to them near the end of question period, but Hillier maintains the remarks were directed at the Opposition New Democrats.

'Trivial cheerleading'

Ford was asked Wednesday whether he wanted Hillier out of caucus.

"I can't say I want him out but I think we need a little time to run through a few things with Randy," he said.

"I'll sit down with him and talk to him."

He declined to elaborate further, calling the matter a personnel issue.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford answers media questions during an announcement in Cambridge, Ont., on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

The premier was not asked about the allegations in Hillier's letter, which is posted online as part of a petition to see him reinstated.

A spokesman for the premier did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

In the letter, Hillier said he hoped the issue could be dealt with reasonably and with an acknowledgment that his suspension was the result of miscommunication.

"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," he said.

"The sticking point is both the substantive matters of conscience and local representation, and the trivial clapping, retweeting and cheerleading."

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