Independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Randy Hillier is facing a number of charges in connection with the self-dubbed “Freedom Convoy” which illegally occupied downtown Ottawa for a number of weeks earlier this year.
According to a release from the Ottawa Police Service, in February they received multiple complaints about social media posts and other activities of an individual as part of the ongoing illegal protests. An investigation began, and a police task force gathered information in order to investigate criminal behaviour during the protest, police said.
“Our police service received regular reports of intimidating and threatening behaviour towards residents on a daily basis,” said Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell. “We had reports of hate crimes being committed and willful disregard of police and court orders.”
According to Bell, this behaviour had many negative impacts on the entire community, including businesses and the vulnerable, marginalized and LGBT2QS+ and racialized communities.
“Our centretown is a diverse, proud and vibrant place,” he stated. “But during the protest, we saw clear signs of hate like swastikas, anti-government sentiment, leaders posting threatening language on social media and other various forms of social disorder. It shook their faith and confidence in the ability of police and government to keep them safe.”
According to the release, the investigation is ongoing.
Hillier has been an MPP for 15 years, winning four elections, and has been an Independent MPP since March of 2019, after being kicked out of the Ontario PC caucus for disrespectful comments towards parents of autistic children. Earlier this month, Hillier announced that he would not be running for re-election and would be leaving political life, after initially stating that he would be running for Premier of Ontario under the newly established Ontario PPC Party.
Hillier has been in hot water before for what many regarded to be a racist statement, when he called Canada’s Minister of Transportation, Omar Alghabra, a “terrorist” in late January, 2022. Shortly after, in the same month, Hillier made a series of social media posts falsely blaming “domestic terrorism” and “shorting (of) the food supply” for an empty meat cooler at the Smiths Falls Walmart.
He was already facing a slew of charges stemming from his failure to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act, after he attended an Aylmer, Ontario church service in early 2021 in which public safety protocols were not being followed.
Ottawa Police have not yet disclosed what specific actions led to Hillier’s charges. In February of 2022, at the height of the occupation in Ottawa, Hillier encouraged followers on social media to tie up 911 phone lines as a means to protest police actions, leading to the hashtag #ArrestHillier trending on Twitter. In an interview with CBC the following Tuesday, prominent Ottawa lawyer Michael Spratt said that Hillier “should be prepared to soon hear from police” because of these comments.
Charges may also stem from posts Hillier made on social media which revealed the private phone numbers of police officers working at the Ottawa occupation. He was also captured on video moving aside fencing barriers to allow protesters into a closed-off area during the Ottawa occupation:
Hillier, 64 years old, has been arrested and is facing the following charges:
- Mischief/obstruct property exceeding $5000 – two counts
- Counsel an uncommitted indictable offence (mischief) – two counts
- Obstruct/resist person aiding public/peace officer
- Obstruct/resist a public officer – two counts
- Assault peace or public officer
- Counsel an uncommitted indictable
He is scheduled to appear in court today, Monday, Mar. 28, 2022.