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Independent member of Ontario legislature, Randy Hillier, won't seek re-election

Randy Hillier, an independent member of Ontario's legislature who has been effectively barred from participating in the chamber after members unanimously condemned his statements and behaviour, says he won't seek re-election.

The representative for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston was elected four times as a Progressive Conservative, but was kicked out of the caucus before the pandemic by Premier Doug Ford.

During the pandemic, Hillier has frequently posted COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories, has been ticketed for allegedly breaking public health rules, and has more recently supported and attended the Ottawa occupation by anti-vaccine mandate protesters.

Hillier, who has called federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra a terrorist and labelled public health measures as "fascism," lamented increasing polarization in politics.

"People are either right or wrong," he said in a video announcing his decision not to run again. "There is no in between. There is no room for discussion, or nuance, context or circumstances. We've seen this play out to our detriment over the last couple of years."

The legislature first passed a unanimous motion condemning Hillier's "disreputable conduct" after he posted the names and photos of people who had died to suggest without evidence that they had died due to COVID-19 vaccination.

He later apologized, but the legislature again condemned him and authorized the Speaker to not recognize Hillier for what government House leader Paul Calandra called racist and discriminatory statements about Alghabra, and for social media posts that Calandra said were insinuating a call to violence.

Hillier denied that his posts labelling Alghabra as a terrorist were racist, because he didn't reference Alghabra's religion or ethnicity and also called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his cabinet, and Ford and his cabinet terrorists.

He has also tweeted encouragements to tar and feather his fellow Ontario legislators and for people to "keep calling" in response to a plea by Ottawa police for supporters of the downtown convoy protests to stop flooding emergency lines.

Hillier said he stands by those messages but not people's interpretations of them, which he called "lies." 

Hillier also previously violated mask rules at the legislature four times, trying to enter the members' lobby to vote wearing a face shield. The sergeant-at-arms prevented him from entering because of it, and Hillier alleged it breached parliamentary privilege.

The Speaker ruled against him.

Hillier said in his video that he will work toward his causes outside of politics.

"I've come to the conclusion that there is not a political solution to what ails our society, the division, the polarization, the animus, the censorship, the suppression of views," he said. 

"There is no sense spending any more time trying to fix a broken system from within when the problem lies without."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2022.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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