Independent Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Randy Hillier, who represents the riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, has apologized for social media posts in which he used the names and photos of recently-deceased people and claimed, falsely and without evidence, that they had died due to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Randy Hillier, who was previously a member of the Progressive Conservative Party until he was ousted from the party in 2019, frequently posts on social media about COVID-19 conspiracy theories and has been one of the pandemic’s most vocal spreaders of misinformation in Canada. His unsubstantiated claims have led to the temporary suspension of his social media accounts on several occasions.
Shortly after Hillier made the posts, several of the families of those included in his posts spoke out against Hillier, speaking to various media outlets, including Kingstonist, to deny Hillier’s assertions and express their anger that he would use their loved ones’ deaths for political gain.
A motion was recently passed unanimously in the Ontario Legislature condemning Hillier’s statements, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford has similarly denounced Hillier’s statements.
“I think it’s appalling that an elected official would do that,” said Ford during a press conference on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. “That’s the reason Randy Hillier is not a part of our party…The cheese slipped off the cracker with this guy. He’s gone rogue. The guy’s lost his mind in my opinion,” Ford exclaimed.
In his written response, Hillier claimed that he has received “approximately 1000 calls and emails” about alleged injuries and deaths from COVID-19 vaccines. “In my effort to bring these concerns to the public forum, I generated a post questioning what appeared as a sudden and unexplained death in a number of young people…It subsequently was brought to my attention that my post was causing distress. I edited the post, removing the names and images of some individuals, and clarified the language of the post to provide greater clarity. I subsequently removed the post completely,” Hillier wrote. “I understand that my post caused greater distress to families already hurt by the loss of a loved one.”
Hillier’s response falls short of apologizing for making false claims about the causes of death, and the apology that it does include pertains only to the use of names and photos without first contacting family members for their authorization. “I exercised poor judgment in not first contacting these families for permission to repost publicly available information regarding their family members,” Hillier said. “I should have reached out to the affected families before commenting…To these families I offer my most sincere regrets for the further distress my actions have caused them, and I sincerely apologize for the disruption to your lives that my actions have caused.”