TORONTO — A provincial politician has been kicked out of the Progressive Conservative caucus days after he alleged he was being penalized for butting heads with the premier’s inner circle.
A letter written by the Tory caucus chair and provided to media says Randy Hillier has been permanently expelled following a review of his behaviour before and after his suspension last month.
In the letter, Daryl Kramp says Premier Doug Ford was disappointed that Hillier “continued to escalate the situation in public” and appeared unwilling to be a team player.
Ford’s office did not immediately respond when asked whether the decision was a response to Hillier’s statements earlier this week that he had been suspended over long-standing tensions with the premier’s top advisers.
Hillier, who represents an eastern Ontario riding, claimed to reveal the real reason for his suspension in a letter to party members. He did not immediately respond to request for comment Friday.
The premier has said the veteran politician was suspended for comments he made as parents of children with autism packed the legislature’s galleries in protest of the government’s recent funding changes.
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.
Hillier said in his letter that he challenged the rationale for his suspension and was presented with a list of what he called “questionable and childish” issues, including complaints that he didn’t clap enough in the House and wasn’t sufficiently sharing government posts on social media.
“It has become abundantly clear that the motivations involved were far more complicated, resulting in discussions and negotiations regarding my return to caucus becoming stalled,” he said in the letter. “The sticking point is both the substantive matters of conscience and local representation, and the trivial clapping, retweeting and cheerleading.”
The premier said earlier this week that he would talk to Hillier about the matter but declined to elaborate further.
Party members in Hillier’s riding had launched a petition calling for him to be reinstated in caucus.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press