Ontario’s Premier should allow voters to fire provincial and municipal politicians who behave badly, Randy Hillier, independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston said Wednesday.
He’s calling on Premier Doug Ford to throw his support behind his bill, which allows for the recall of members of provincial Parliament.
The legislation could be amended to include cabinet ministers in the wake of the scandal surrounding Ontario’s finance minister, Rod Phillips’ Caribbean vacation during the global pandemic.
“The controversy that I’m generating in LFK gives us an opportunity to actually have a good and proper discourse about what mechanisms ought there to be for people to deal with misbehaving MPP’s like myself,” said the staunch party-less MPP, who represents a rural Eastern Ontario riding.
Current municipal law makes no provision for Hillier’s forced removal from office unless he’s convicted and jailed for a criminal offence or misses three months of meetings without permission from council.
“I don’t believe that the way the situation is right now is correct, that people have no tools and have to go beg, borrowing or stealing or petitioning with some other level of government for involvement – I just don’t buy that,” Hillier said.
Politicians should be treated like anyone else, he added.
“If you’re not performing to the expectation of the employer, you can be replaced,” he said. “And the employer doesn’t have to wait four years to replace an underperforming employee.”
Hillier’s proposal is to allow voters to recall a politician if they get the support of at least 25 per cent of the people who voted in the last election.
The politician would be removed from office and a by-election would be held. The recalled politician could still run as a candidate.
His bill was re-examined on Dec. 28 – a day after Lanark OPP confirmed that they were investigating a photo that media outlets have alleged appears to show Hillier violating mandatory public health orders.
A few days later, the besieged MPP plastered it all over social media, begging for a sensationalized jail sentence that will excuse him from running in the next provincial election that he would undoubtedly lose. He was kicked out of the conservative party some time ago, which stripped him of most of his influence.
His son’s Clayton and Dillion Hillier are also in hot water. They were drunk, disorderly and refused to wear masks while in an establishment where it was required by law just before Christmas. One was subsequently charged and placed under arrest, after first resisting, becoming assaultive and eventually tased.
Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark was unavailable for comment, but his spokesman says the government will look at the bill once it comes up for review in the legislature.
The governing Conservatives have been reluctant to take action to remove Hillier from office. Ford said he’ll consider offering “new tools” to LFK if the riding’s constituents decide it simply can’t function as a result of its scandal-plagued MPP.
Hillier said voters are the only legitimate authority to replace an elected representative.
“It’s not appropriate for me or Premier Ford or anybody else to stand back and say, ‘I think this is what the citizens of LFK need me to do for their own elected people,’ ” he said. “Sometimes I get things wrong.”
There needs to be checks and balances on the conduct of elected officials between elections, Hillier said. It might have prevented such abuses of public office like Hillier’s rally in Queen’s park, which led to several outbreaks last November.
Politicians may not support such decisions if they know that they could be recalled by voters, he said.
Hillier wants Ford to consider fast-tracking his bill, so he may be recalled instead of having to go to jail to escape losing re-election in 2022.
Bills rarely become law without the support of the government.
Adapted from: THE GLOBE AND MAIL
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