Randy Hillier (politician)

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Randy Hillier
Randy Hillier cropped.JPG
MPP for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington
Incumbent
Assumed office
October 30, 2007
Preceded by new district
Personal details
Born 1958 (age 55–56)
Ottawa, Ontario
Political party Progressive Conservative
Occupation electrician, property rights activist

Randy Hillier (born 1958) is a rural activist and politician in Ontario, Canada. He was elected as a Progressive Conservative MPP for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington during the 2007 Ontario general election. Hillier has served as the party's critic for both Labour and Northern Development, Mines and Forestry in the provincial legislature.

Hillier is a licensed construction electrician with a diploma in electrical engineering technology from Algonquin College and former employee of the Canadian federal government. He lives near Perth, Ontario. In 2009, Hillier was a candidate in the provincial PC leadership election.[1] After finishing fourth on the first ballot, he threw his support to the eventual winner Tim Hudak.

Activities outside elected politics[edit]

Activist[edit]

In 2003, Hillier co-founded and served as the first president of the Lanark Landowners' Association. He then assisted in creation of local landowner groups in other parts of Ontario, modelled on the Lanark Landowners. In 2006, he became the first president of the 15,000-member Ontario Landowners Association (OLA), an umbrella group for these groups. The OLA was formed "...to preserve and protect the rights of property owners and to enshrine property rights within the Constitution of Canada and the laws of the Province of Ontario."[2]

Under Hillier's leadership, the landowners' groups initially engaged in acts of civil disobedience, including blocking highways, barricading government offices, staging illegal deer hunts, and publicly breaking laws that the landowners regarded as unjust. This was primarily done as a tactic to draw media attention to perceived injustices, and thereby to pressure the provincial government to amend the laws or at least enforce them in a manner less injurious to the interests of rural landowners.

Hillier has explained the illegal actions of the landowners as follows:

I believe in non-violent civil disobedience. I believe when a law or rule is blatantly wrong it is a part of our democratic process to challenge that law. At times civil disobedience is used to illustrate and further bring attention to the absurdity.[3]

In 2007, when he was seeking election to the provincial legislature, Hillier was challenged to justify his participation four years earlier in an illegal deer hunt. He responded by stating,

I sent [Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty an email containing] a picture of a dead deer saying the people of Lanark County were removing nuisance deer because the Liberal government had revoked those licences [for farmers to shoot deer that were eating their crops]. I did it four years ago... and I would do it again because I will not stand for injustice and I will not stand for farmers to be put into bankruptcy.[4]

As well as acts of civil disobedience, the landowners conducted demonstrations at Queen's Park and Parliament Hill. Hillier's ability to attract media notice through the use of attention-grabbing rhetoric and tactics prompted one television commentator to describe him as "Don Cherry in plaid and rubber boots"[5]--a reference to the colourful hockey personality. On one occasion in 2006, Hillier was arrested and detained (but not charged) for trespassing during a protest at a water quality meeting in Cornwall.

After the creation of the OLA in 2006, acts of civil disobedience were replaced by attempts to influence the political system by more traditional means. Landowner-endorsed candidates ran for municipal office in many rural municipalities in the 2006 Ontario municipal elections. Hillier and other members of the OLA began to appear as witnesses before parliamentary hearings into issues affecting rural areas.[6]

Editorialist[edit]

Hillier is the author of numerous editorials on a wide range of policy issues. Since 2003 he has been a periodic contributor to Le Québécois Libre, a bilingual libertarian online journal that is published in Montreal.[7]

Since 2006, Hillier has been co-publisher and co-editor of the OLA's official organ, The Landowner magazine, which is published bi-monthly. Hillier publishes an editorial in each issue of The Landowner.

In 2009, Hillier and Scott Reid co-founded the Lanark Society for the Advancement of Democracy, Property and the Common Law, which is intended "to help elected officials of a libertarian or classical liberal bent to take 'projects to expand the cause of freedom' beyond the conceptual stage."[8]

Politics[edit]

2007 election campaign[edit]

In January 2007, Hillier resigned as president of the OLA to seek the Progressive Conservative nomination in Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington in the upcoming provincial election. Some members of the party suggested that Hillier's activist past made him an unsuitable candidate, and the Toronto Star speculated that the party might disqualify him. Scott Reid, the federal MP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, responded that he would be "very disappointed" if Hillier were prevented from running, adding "I can't think of anything more dangerous to our prospects [of winning in this riding]".[9] On May 5, Hillier won a three-way nomination against Jay Brennan and Brent Cameron. He was elected MPP for the riding on October 10, 2007, capturing just under 41% of the vote and defeating Liberal candidate Ian Wilson by 924 votes.

During the election campaign, some observers questioned Hillier's fitness for elected office, given his history of civil disobedience. But this history won him some admirers as well. Similarly, his willingness to take contrarian positions (for example, announcing his skepticism about climate change at a mid-election meeting of the editorial board of the Ottawa Citizen)[10] earned him approval as well as opposition. Shortly after this meeting, the Citizen's editorial board endorsed Hillier. An editorial in the paper advised voters to "Take a chance on Randy Hillier" and stated that "[T]he landowners'-rights activist is doing the right thing by running for the legislature and trying to change the system he's been battling for so very long."[11]

2007-2009: Early career as a Member of Provincial Parliament[edit]

Following the 2007 election, Hillier was appointed his party’s critic for rural affairs.

However, it became increasingly clear that Hillier was unhappy with the leadership of PC leader John Tory. In March 2008 an article in the Ottawa Citizen reported that Hillier was considering leaving the Progressive Conservative caucus and joining the small Reform Party of Ontario. Hillier brushed aside this rumour as “void of fact.” [12]

2009: Ontario PC leadership candidate[edit]

In early March 2009, John Tory resigned as leader of the Ontario PCs. On March 30, Hillier announced his candidacy in the leadership race to succeed Tory. Few observers thought Hillier had a realistic chance of winning, but some media commentators speculated that he might fill the role of kingmaker.[13]

Lacking in high-profile endorsements, Hillier instead focused his leadership bid on a series of policy announcements. These included:

  • Allowing Ontarians to vote to elect their senators;
  • Enacting a law, which he proposed to call the Freedom of Association and Conscience Act, which would allow health care professionals and other government-paid individuals to refuse to provide services to which, for religious or moral reasons, they were personally opposed (such as doctors and nurses refusing to perform abortions and marriage commissioners refusing to perform same-sex marriages);
  • Abolishing the Ontario Human Rights Commission and allowing all legal proceedings under the province’s Human Rights Act to be dealt with in the regular court system.[14]
  • Allowing the sale of beer and wine in corner stores;
  • Restoration of the spring bear hunt;
  • Ending the closed shop in unionized workplaces;
  • Reverse the ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides;
  • abolition of the province's property tax assessment agency (MPAC);
  • Increasing the speed limit on Ontario highways;
  • Allowing the de-amalgamation of municipalities which had been forcibly amalgamated in the 1990s;
  • Cracking down on the aboriginal occupations in places like Caledonia.[15]

Hillier placed fourth in the September 2009 leadership vote, with just under 10% of the vote. However, the initial vote-count showed no clear leader among the other three candidates: Tim Hudak had won 33.9%, Frank Klees had 29.9%, and Christine Elliott had 26.4%. Because the election was structured as a preferential vote, the ballots cast by Hillier supporters were then redistributed among the other candidates. This system meant that Hillier's prior public endorsement of Tim Hudak as his own second choice for leader was important: two-thirds of the second-preference votes of Hillier supporters went to Hudak, doubling his lead over Klees.

2009-present: Political career after the leadership election[edit]

Following the election, Tim Hudak appointed Hillier as the party's critic for Labour, and for Northern Development, Mines and Forestry in the provincial legislature.

Regarding Hillier's support of Jack MacLaren, former Ontario Landowner Association President, to challenge sitting MPP Norm Sterling at the Annual General Meeting of the Carleton-Mississippi Mills Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Riding Association, the Globe and Mail newspaper described Hillier as a "shrewd political operator"[16]

Prior to the 2011 provincial election, Randy Hillier and federal counterpart Scott Reid introduced motions to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the federal House of Commons, respectively, to enshrine property rights for Ontarians in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

2011 election[edit]

During the 2011 provincial election, it was reported that, as the result of a dispute over with the agency over taxes said to be owing for the sale of some land, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) had placed two liens with a total value of $15,000 on property owned by Hillier and his wife. Hillier responded that they were working with CRA to resolve the dispute.[17] The dispute did not hurt Hillier's reelection effort; he won by a 10,000 vote margin.

2012[edit]

After the 2011 provincial election, Randy Hillier co-sponsored a bill to repeal Ontario’s breed-specific restrictions on pit bull ownership. The bill was supported by members of all three parties at second reading in February 2012.[18] Despite passing second reading and committee, Ontario’s Liberal Government did not call the Bill for third reading. It died on the order table with Premier McGuinty’s prorogation of the legislature.

Following revelations in January 2012 that the head of a union local in Toronto was rehired after improperly spending public funds, Hillier called on the Ontario Government to make unions receiving public money to be made more accountable.[19]

In March 2012, Hillier introduced a bill to proclaim “Constitution Day”, recognizing the day that the British North America Act and the Constitution Act were proclaimed into law.[20]

With the support of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, Hillier introduced a bill to strengthen the Taxpayer Protection Act introduced by the Harris government and to require all pieces of legislation be costed before they are introduced to the Ontario Legislature.[21]

2013[edit]

In September 2013, Hillier was stripped of his role as the party's labour critic after the Toronto Star published an email Hillier had sent to the PC caucus raising concerns over colleague Monte McNaughton’s private member's bill abrogating construction company EllisDon's 1950s-era collective bargaining agreement.[22] The Star revealed that Hillier’s concerns included that the PC Party would receive donations from Ellis Don for pushing the legislation. Hillier acknowledged that the email was his but did not comment on it. Hillier voted against the bill at second reading along with the members of the New Democratic caucus. Hudak, McNaughton and nine other members of the Tory caucus and 22 Liberals voted for the bill at second reading.[23] All but two Liberals voted against the Bill at third reading. Hillier was not in attendance for the third reading vote.[24]

At the end of October 2013, Hillier introduced a bill to allow provincial politicians to be recalled from public office.[25] Hillier’s bill received some public support after he recommended that it should apply to Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who was embroiled in a crack cocaine scandal.[26]

In the fall of 2013 Hillier wrote an article for the Canadian Parliamentary Review detailing his ideas to reform Ontario’s Legislature to “empower” Members of Provincial Parliament.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jordan Press. Hillier sought provincial Tory leadership Kingston Whig-Standard. March 30, 2009. [1]
  2. ^ About Rural Revolution: Ontario Landowners' Association (OLA) Founding Declaration
  3. ^ "Strong support for Hillier", The Shield (Land O’Lakes Edition), Jan. 11, 2008, p. 6.
  4. ^ "Debate one last swipe before vote", Napanee Guide, Oct. 5, 2007, p. 1.
  5. ^ Gena Gibson, "Hillier triumphs, Perth Courier, Oct. 17, 2007, p. 1.
  6. ^ For example, Hillier's appearance as a witness at the hearings of the provincial legislature into Bill 43, the Source Water Protection Act, is covered in The Landowner, Vol. 1 No. 4 (Dec/Jan 2007), p. 24. An appearance of Merle Bowes and two other OLA witnesses at the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry is covered in The Landowner, Vol. 2 No. 1 (June/July 2007), p. 26.
  7. ^ A complete list of these editorials is located at: http://www.quebecoislibre.org/aphillier.htm.
  8. ^ See Janet Ajzenstat's blog post, "Who’s Using The Courts Now?", July 22, 2009, at http://janetajzenstat.wordpress.com/page/2/. Accessed Oct. 1, 2009.
  9. ^ Ian Urquhart, "Rural activist a potential headache for Tories", Toronto Star, 12 February 2007, A13.
  10. ^ Greenhouse gases 'not evil:' PC candidate
  11. ^ "Take a chance on Randy Hillier", Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 4, 2007, p. C4.
  12. ^ Krista Johnston, "Hillier reaffirms allegiance to Tories", in Smiths Falls This Week, Mar. 28, 2008, p. 1.
  13. ^ http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2009/03/07/8660941-sun.html "They deserve what they got", Toronto Sun, Mar. 7, 2009
  14. ^ Story - Ottawa Citizen
  15. ^ Story - Ottawa Citizen
  16. ^ The Globe and Mail, Dec. 4, 2010 "Ontario Tories struggle-to prevent civil war on eastern front" by Adam Radwanski, "http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/adam-radwanski/ontario-tories-struggle-to-prevent-civil-war-on-eastern-front/article1825137/
  17. ^ "Hudak defends MPP who owes back taxes". The Canadian Press. September 9, 2011. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Private bill to end Ontario’s pit bull ban gets all-party support". The Canadian Press. February 23, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Stop public funding of union centre, Tory labour critic urges". Tony Van Alphen. January 17, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Canadians to mark Constitution Day on March 29". Dan Neutel, Postmedia News. March 28, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Taxpayers get extra protection". Antonella Artuso. April 4, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Tim Hudak fires Randy Hillier over leaked email". The Toronto Star. September 13, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Star Exclusive: Tory MPP says party officials tied donations to labour legislation". Richard J. Brennan and Robert Benzie, The Toronto Star. September 4, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Liberals and NDP crush controversial Bill 74 by Tories to help EllisDon". Richard J. Brennan and Robert Benzie, The Toronto Star. October 29, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Hillier proposes bill to recall MPPs". Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen. October 30, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Ontario Tory’s bill would allow recall of misbehaving mayors, MPPs". Maria Babbage, The Canadian Press. November 20, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  27. ^ His article can be found on the Canadian Parliamentary Review's website here: http://www.revparl.ca/english/issue.asp?param=216&art=1542

External links[edit]