Police have laid nine charges against Independent MPP Randy Hillier in relation to his social media posts and other alleged activities during the convoy protests in Ottawa.
Before surrendering to police early Monday morning, Hillier said he’d been asked to turn himself in to “face charges for expressing myself with the freedom convoy.”
He is expected to appear in court later in the day.
“It’s been deemed that I have to prove that I’m not a danger to society to have my freedom,” he said in a brief video he shared online of him speaking to reporters before entering police headquarters. “We’ll see what happens.”
Hillier, 64, represents Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston. He is facing numerous charges including counseling an indictable offense and counseling an uncommitted indictable offence, mischief, as well as assaulting and obstructing/resisting an officer.
“In February, Ottawa police received multiple complaints about social media posts and other activities of an individual as part of the ongoing illegal protests,” the police said in a news release.
“An investigation was commenced and information gathered by a police task force initiated to investigate criminal behavior during the protest. That task force continues its work.”
Ottawa officers had previously told the Star they were looking into Hillier’s Twitter posts, in which he encouraged so-called “Freedom Convoy” supporters to “keep calling” emergency phone lines near the end of the three-week occupation of the capital as police were clearing out trucks and protesters in the area around Parliament Hill.
Ottawa police had asked that people “stop calling critical emergency and operational phone lines to express displeasure about the police action.”
Hillier retweeted the police statement, adding the comment: “Keep calling in a democracy expressing yourself is a fundamental freedom #FreedomConvoy2022.”
He later told the Star “there was no mention of 911” in his tweet, adding, “I don’t generally apologize for other people’s mistakes or wrongful attributions.”
Hillier has already been censured twice by MPPs from all parties in the Ontario legislature for “conduct that is inappropriate and unbecoming of a member” and he was ordered to apologize before being allowed to speak in the house again.
At the legislature Monday, Speaker Ted Arnott said Hillier has “failed to send a written apology” for his controversial remarks.
Since Hillier is not running in the June 2 election — and he will likely take until after then for his case to wend its way through the court system — Liberal House Leader John Fraser said his status in the chamber is “moot.”
Hillier could only be expelled as an MPP if he was convicted.
“As a member of the house, his behavior in the last six months was disgraceful,” Fraser added. “These charges are much more serious.”
Hillier has sat as an Independent since being kicked out of the Progressive Conservative caucus in 2019. During the pandemic, he published photos and information about Ontarians whom he wrongly claimed had died from COVID-19 vaccinations.
In January, he called federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, who is Muslim, a “terrorist” in a social media post, and was permanently suspended from Twitter earlier this month.
Hillier has said he is not seeking re-election because “the political system is broken.”
With files from Rob Ferguson
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