Kingston City Council unanimously passed an amended motion yesterday decrying the actions of Randy Hillier, joining the Town of Perth, the Township of South Frontenac, and Loyalist Township, who have also issued statements against the independent MPP.
The motion was brought before council last night by Councillor Bridget Doherty, and called on the Ford Government to “refer Mr. Hillier’s unethical and harmful behaviour to the Ontario Integrity Commissioner for investigation,” and “take further actions and sanctions that may be available to the Provincial Government,” according to the Kingston City Council Agenda for Tuesday, May 4, 2021 (Page 16, Item 2).
Councillor Jeff McLaren moved that the original motion be amended to strike the resolution calling on Premiere Ford “to take further actions and sanctions that may be available to the Provincial Government.” McLaren presented removal of the second form because he felt that it may come across as entering a debate on free speech.
“There is a sense in the community that we’re asking to censor him,” said McLaren. “This is troubling because I don’t think it’s exactly true.”
“This is not about the freedom of speech. He has the ability to do a podcast, he [Hillier] has the ability to go on the radio, or on the news, or even spend the money he’s about to get charged with on ads. What this really is about is the public health.”
The amended motion was passed, though some councillors remained uncomfortable with the wording, with Councillor Chapelle reading letters from constituents on the motion and expressing concern in particular with the clause citing ‘racist messaging.’
“I’m not comfortable on those two sentences because it makes me look at how quickly someone who you don’t like what they’ve said, how you can call it that magic word of ‘racist,’” said Chapelle. “I think it’s harmful to the intent of this motion and I’m wondering if you’d be amenable to changing it.”
“I think it’s harmful and extremely disrespectful to our Jewish community when, during Passover, he [Hillier] tweets a picture of Hitler addressing the Third Reich,” said Doherty.
Earlier in the meeting, Chapelle had said he was unaware of how large Hillier’s online following had become. “I didn’t know he had a Twitter account, to be honest with you,” said Chapelle.
At the time of writing, Hillier has 34,000 followers on Twitter.
Hillier has continually opposed government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 including lockdowns and the wearing of masks, and faces charges under the Re-Opening act for hosting large maskless rallies across Southern Ontario. He has also compared lockdown orders to policies under Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
“The motion speaks to Mr. Hillier’s conduct… the motion is speaking about an elected official, and elected officials are held up to a higher standard because we are responsible to the residents who vote for us,” said Doherty.