Demanding the Immediate Resignation of MPP Randy Hillier

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On Feb. 20th 2019, MPP Randy Hillier minimized the pain and anguish parents are experiencing in reaction to Ontario's changes to Autism Services and funding during Question Period in the legislature. Hillier was immediately suspended, indefinitely. As a mother of a child living with Autism and a constituent of Hillier, I was appalled by my elected official's complete lack of empathy for parents advocating for Ontario's children. Hillier has since issued an apology, along with a page-long letter justifying his inexcusable behaviour. A REAL APOLOGY DOES NOT TRY TO EXCUSE THE BEHAVIOUR. Today, we are calling on MPP Randy Hillier to do the right thing and step down from his role as a Member of Provincial Parliament. 

Reporters Laurie Weir and Desmond Devoy report,

"Local MPP Randy Hillier has been suspended from the PC caucus after allegedly uttering comments in the legislature that some believe were disrespectful towards families with autistic children.

The Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston member of provincial parliament was suspended by Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday, Feb. 20, indefinitely. 

Dozens of parents were at the legislature Wednesday to voice concerns about a new autism program they say provides inadequate funding for their kids to get the treatment they need. Some of those parents are saying Hillier allegedly said, "yada, yada, yada," and felt those words were directed at them." (Full article here)  


From the LFK-NDP Riding Association,

Statement on the Suspension of Randy Hillier from PC Caucus
On Wednesday, February 20th at Queen’s Park in Toronto, while representing Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston constituents in Provincial Parliament, our local MPP Randy Hillier was heard to make disparaging, dismissive remarks to individuals at the closing of a debate on the funding of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) therapy programs in Ontario. The Ontario PC Party has since announced his indefinite suspension from their Caucus.
Instead of an apology for his inappropriate behaviour, Mr. Hillier has issued a statement attempting to deflect any responsibility for his own actions, and disputes accounts of who he was addressing while behaving inappropriately as a member of Provincial Parliament. In his statement, Mr. Hillier unconvincingly attempts to blame members of the Official Opposition for his own behaviour.
It is the duty of the Official Opposition to represent those with views and interests that run counter to government policy or legislation. Many families will be disproportionately affected by the Ford cuts, many disastrously. Families of all political backgrounds have turned to all sitting members of the Provincial Legislature to have their voices heard, but as they oppose this government action they are most appropriately represented by the Official Opposition, and it seems that opposition members are the only ones listening and attempting to help these families.
Randy Hillier cannot excuse his inappropriate behaviour on the floor of the legislature by claiming he was only behaving badly toward other members doing their sworn duty. The nature and subject of the debate only makes it worse in that he seems to believe he can mistreat anyone while working in his capacity as our representative, if it suits his personal partisan biases.
Premier Doug Ford is acting appropriately in removing Mr. Hillier from his Caucus, however Ford’s own history makes his action at once disingenuous and cynical in the extreme. His interactions with the families affected dating back to his time as a Toronto City Councillor expose his total lack of empathy in these matters. Doug Ford’s words in dismissing Hillier were not credible.
There has been conflict between Hillier and Ford since the PC leadership race, when Hillier supported Christine Elliot and was vocally opposed to and dismissive of Doug Ford. While it remains an appropriate action to remove Hillier, given Ford’s history it is possibly nothing more to Ford than a flimsy pretext for dismissing an opponent. While Randy Hillier may attempt to claim that the Opposition is attempting to “politicize these hardships”, it is in fact their duty to do so, Hillier’s duty too, but utilizing the difficulties faced by these families to settle political scores within his own party as Ford seems to be doing is a gross abuse of power.
I write this statement as a resident of our riding and a representative of the LFK NDP. I am also a parent of an autistic child that did qualify for and receive the IBI (Intensive Behavioural Intervention) therapies that this new autism funding program will place out of reach for all but the wealthiest Ontario residents. Like the families Ford and Hillier oppose, I know what harm Ford is inflicting, with the help of Minister Macleod and indeed, Randy Hillier.
Without the effective IBI programs, my own child risked not being able to attend schools, or function without 24/7 personal care in our society, for his entire life. That program he completed 3 years ago made such a difference that he is now able to attend school without his own personal aide for the first time this year, when he entered the third grade. That program made such a difference that he has a chance at an independent, productive and fulfilling life that we all deserve a chance at having. If he had been born near 50 years ago as I was, he may have spent his life in an institution, but now, with the advancement of these therapies and technologies, he has a chance.
His mother & I must work very hard and will continue to do so to assure his happiness and success, and we will have to do so until we die. We have no regrets, he is a wonderful person with a beautiful mind and love for life, caring & considerate to everyone he encounters.
The programs these cuts might still leave within reach of the average Ontarian, ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) programs & training, among others available supports like respite funding are beneficial and successful but wholly insufficient for those who require comprehensive IBI & related therapies. The cuts will save no money and cost a great deal in the long run. As the benefits of these programs diminish due to lack of participation for want of proper funding, the health and care needs of the affected families will grow exponentially.
When Kathleen Wynne attempted to make similar cuts to these same programs, these families that Ford and Hillier oppose stood united and forced Wynne to reverse her course. These families defeated Kathleen Wynne’s majority government long before Doug Ford arrived provincially, and they are not going to stop protecting their young from this even greater threat. They will find willing allies among other vulnerable communities affected by Ford’s war on regular people, and they will turn this around without regard for Ford’s malicious austerity agenda.
While campaigning last year, Hillier met many residents from every party who expressed justified concerns about Doug Ford and what could be expected from a Ford government. Hillier frequently made himself out to be a political "maverick" who would stand up to Doug Ford when and where necessary.
I don't see any of that in his statement, or in any action of his to date, except that he alone perhaps among all his colleagues refuses to stand and clap when commanded to do so on the floor of the legislature.
It is good that in spirit he might not toe every line drawn by this government, but real action is what's needed and so far, this maverick seems to be looking out primarily for himself and his own political fortunes. It is clearly not working out for him, and why should it? Doug Ford is a bully by any account and being a discontented member of a bully's gang is hardly equal to standing up to a bully. Bullies know very well what to do with what they see as a false bravado, it is their stock in trade, preying on whom they perceive as the weaker among any group, including their own.
Perhaps Hillier will surprise us all and stand up to Doug Ford as he said he would at public debates during the 2018 campaign, but I seriously doubt it today. That is why I call on Randy Hillier to resign and face a by-election if he wishes to sit as an independent.
Doug Ford has proven he is “For the People” only if they are connected, wealthy, and healthy. Who will stand for most of the people in Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston if Randy Hillier will not stand up to Ford even for his own position as a member of the PC Caucus?
Randy Hillier has a duty to represent every person in this riding and to exhibit the qualities of a leader while doing so. Sad to say that many in our riding have come to expect just the opposite over the years, and their view is supported by Hillier’s history of making himself newsworthy with incidents like this one more frequently than otherwise. The people deserve better from Hillier, and from the party that removed Hillier.
Sincerely, Dennis Riggs President, Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Ontario NDP Riding Association