Backlash prompts Ontario to reverse changes to autism funding
Backlash prompts Ontario to reverse changes to autism funding
The Ontario PC Party’s Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston riding association sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford, asking him to meet with more than 900 local members to reconsider his decision to expel Randy Hillier from caucus.
The CBC reports that Nick Drakich, a member of the association’s executive said they’re calling for a meeting with the premier because many of the association’s members are still reeling from the decision.
He said, “This is our representative, and to tell us that we cannot have our representative who we all support in caucus … not only does he alienate Randy but he alienates all the members of the party in Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston.”
Drakich says to tell the association that they cannot have their representative, who they all support, not only alienates the MPP but alienates all the members of the party in the riding.
Drakich said the association and its legal counsel believe the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party constitution gives only the riding association the discretion to remove an MPP from the party.
As far as the association is concerned, the ouster could be seen as a legal breach of that contract.
The Premier’s office has not responded publicly to the letter as of yet.
Randy Hillier, the MPP for Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston, has been expelled from the Ontario PC Party's caucus.
Hillier was originally suspended from caucus for saying "yada, yada, yada" to a parent of a child with autism after a tense question period on Feb. 20.
A caucus meeting on March 5 ended with no decision being made on Hillier's future, other than that he would remain suspended.
But on Friday, the Progressive Conservatives' caucus chair Daryl Kramp told Hillier in a letter that he had been permanently expelled.
The letter said Premier Doug Ford was disappointed Hillier "continued to escalate the situation in public" and showed "an ongoing unwillingness on your part to be a team player and to work constructively on finding a solution."
"MPP Randy Hillier has been permanently expelled from the Ontario PC caucus."
A letter from caucus chair Daryl Kramp to Hillier stated a full review of his conduct prior to and after his suspension led to the decision by Premier Doug Ford.
Hillier had previously been suspended for comments he reportedly made to parents of children with autism.
Some of the parents said that Hillier said “yada yada yada” to them near the end of question period, but Hillier maintains the remarks were directed at the Opposition New Democrats.
The eastern Ontario MPP has since stated he was suspended because he clashed with some of the premier’s most senior advisers.
The legislator responded to his expulsion Friday on Twitter.
“I’ll never apologize for putting my constituents first. I was informed of the decision while I was meeting with the people that sent me to Queen’s Park in the first place,” Hillier said, adding he would speak more on the issue soon. “You can rest assured I won’t yada yada over the best parts.”
Kramp said Ford was disappointed in Hillier for continuing to escalate the situation in public, as it “demonstrated an ongoing unwillingness on your part to be a team player and to work constructively on finding a solution.”
Hillier, a veteran Tory legislator known for being outspoken, said he had challenged the justification for his suspension and was given a list of what he called “questionable and childish grievances” by backroom operatives.
A copy of a letter to Mark MacDonald from Brian Patterson was provided to Global News.
Dear Mark: I am responding to your letter to Premier Ford dated March 4, 2019 and sent by you at 11:00 am on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 regarding the status of Randy Hillier, MPP.
As you are aware, Mr. Hillier currently remains suspended from the PC Caucus. To address your main
concern directly, please know that Mr. Hillier’s conduct in the Legislature on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 was not the sole reason for his suspension from Caucus. It was however, to many, including many of his caucus colleagues, the final straw in what has become a pattern of behaviour exhibited by Mr. Hillier over the course of the past year.
For many of his veteran colleagues, they view this as a pattern that goes back many years. I have been told that the environment of the House that day (February 20) was one filled with emotion and tension, as many parents of children with autism were in the gallery to express concerns on the issue of autism funding.
Government members were asked by caucus leadership during the pre-Question Period caucus briefing (from which Mr. Hillier was absent) to maintain the most disciplined decorum during Question Period, so as not to inflame tensions and potentially "set things off.”
Everyone in attendance agreed to this course of action. An analysis of the situation and agreed-upon approach to decorum was also communicated to Mr. Hillier when he eventually showed-up in the House. However, with just a few seconds before the end of Question Period that day, Mr. Hillier made flippant comments that indeed caused a great commotion. Many of the parents in the gallery, as well as opposition MPPs, were furious, and the media was now fully engaged. Regardless of his intent, Mr. Hillier had lit a match in what had become a potentially explosive environment. His comments were viewed as an unnecessary provocation and became the breaking point for caucus leadership with respect to its patience with the MPP. It was for this and many more reasons that Mr. Hillier was suspended from caucus for an indefinite period.
To highlight some examples of his past behaviours that demonstrate an apparent lack of commitment to his caucus colleagues, and of the government for which he now represents, please note that Mr. Hillier:
Has the lowest meeting attendance of any of the members of the Ontario PC Caucus, and when he is present, often comes late and leaves early.
Chose not to attend the 3-day Ontario PC Convention held in Etobicoke this past November.
Chose not to attend the 3-day Caucus retreat held in Waterloo this past February.
Was absent from the Legislature when it was recalled during the Christmas break to debate and
vote on legislation to prevent a strike by the Power Workers’ Union.
Thankfully other members of the government caucus showed-up at Queen’s Park to fight for the people of Ontario and helped to keep the lights on.
Provides comments to members of the media - including the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail - to expresses his dissatisfaction with the government on certain issues, rather than speaking within caucus or directly with the responsible minister.
Is often not present for Question Period warm-up meetings where important items are discussed in advance of MPPs going into the Legislature (including the situation described above).
Rarely highlights the Government’s policies and agenda through social media and other communication channels, but rather, for the most part, chooses to further his own personal interests on those platforms.
Provided a Liberal independent member (just last week), in his absence, with the ability to ask a question in the Legislature against our government - demonstrating his lack of desire to change his behaviour and return to his team.
Despite all of this, Mr. Hillier has had more one-on-one meetings with the Premier and members of the Premier’s staff than any other member of caucus, in order to discuss issues and concerns important to him.
At the very beginning of this government, when he held no additional positions in the Legislature following his run for Speaker, Mr. Hillier was put forward by the Premier to be the Chair of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills – a position for which he had requested.
Mr. Hillier was given a constructive opportunity to become a valued member of the team, but instead became very difficult to work with, and put forward unreasonable demands, that included increasing expenses for members of the Committee. In late December Mr.
Hillier brought claims that he was being muzzled and not permitted to speak to bills in the House. However, after reviewing his concerns, it was found that all formal requests sent by Mr. Hillier’s office were being honoured, and in all cases Mr. Hillier had been given the opportunity to speak in the Legislature, demonstrating that his claims of being muzzled were completely without merit or evidence.
If Mr. Hillier wishes to have a place in the Ontario PC Caucus, my advice would be for him to accept responsibility for his past conduct and begin to demonstrate he is willing to change and be part of a team, rather than engaging in a public relations exercise as he has done for the past week in order to attempt to paint himself as some sort of victim.
For example, please explain to me how your letter ended-up first with a Toronto Star reporter and was posted in an online Star story a day before it was even emailed by you to the Premier.
To me, this highlights a lack of understanding of basic elements of teamwork and respect and displays a clear refusal and unwillingness for Mr. Hillier to acknowledge his own past transgressions. Since being elected on June 7, 2018 our government has made a great deal of progress implementing our agenda for the people of Ontario. This is because of the hard work and dedication of the members of the Ontario PC team.
While our desire would be to have Mr. Hillier play a role on that team, the process for his possible return can only begin to come about if there was at minimum an acceptance by Mr. Hillier of responsibility for his past behaviour as well as a drastic change in his conduct going forward. The people of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston deserve no less. Sincerely, Brian Patterson President Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
IT'S ABOUT GIVING AUTISTIC CHILDREN EVERY CHANCE TO BECOME SELF SUFFICIENT..
Woman with autism becomes first "openly-autistic" lawyer in Florida, employer says. BY CAITLIN O'KANE
This woman with autism was once non-verbal – now she's a practicing lawyer, who spoke at her law school graduation.
Haley Moss was just 3 years old when she was diagnosed with autism. As a toddler, Moss could do 100-piece jigsaw puzzles and read, but she did not speak. After realizing she was gifted but non-verbal, Moss' parents took her to the doctor, where they found out she was on the autism spectrum.
By the age of 4, the girl from South Florida began speaking and quickly went from special education classes to what mainstream classrooms. She always had her sights set on proving her ability was far greater than her disability.
"I first shared my story at a conference when I was 13 years old," Moss, now 24, told CBS News. "I've always enjoyed getting to connect and share."
She wrote her first book, "Middle School — The Stuff Nobody Tells You About: A Teenage Girl with ASD Shares Her Experiences," when she was just 15 years old. Over the past decade, she wrote another book and contributed to a book of essays. Moss has also held several speaking engagements and has created countless pieces of art.
She said advocating for others with autism has always been important to her. "I've always been raised to give back and help others in need and help the community," she said. "It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes an even bigger village to raise a child with a disability ... I realized by sharing my story, I could be a part of someone else's village."
UPDATED ON: FEBRUARY 19, 2019.
Backlash prompts Ont. to reverse changes to autism funding.