The Ontario New Democratic Party says it kicked out longtime Hamilton MPP Paul Miller following a “pattern of troubling behavior” that indicated he may “harbour Islamophobic, homophobic and racist views.”
A statement from Lucy Watson, the party’s provincial director, said that during its vetting process, it discovered the Hamilton–East Stoney Creek member of provincial parliament was a member of the Facebook group Worldwide Coalition Against Islam.
“Any other candidate and any other caucus member — in any context and attempting to run for any reasonable party — would be disqualified for ever having been a member of an Islamophobic, racist group,” read the statement released Wednesday afternoon.
Miller told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that he was removed over a Facebook post he claimed he hadn’t written.
The MPP said the post was “offensive” to the general population, but he didn’t elaborate on its specific content.
He reportedly said he does not write his own Facebook posts and the post at the heart of the issue may have been written by a former staffer.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced last week that Miller would not be allowed to run for the party in the June 2 election and the party was kicking him out of caucus.
Miller previously told CBC he was aware of the information Horwath referred to, but declined to share any details about it, saying only that it’s “totally fabricated and false.”
“It’s nothing criminal or anything like that,” he said at the time. “I’ve been advised by my lawyer not to say anything.”
MPP plans to run as an independent
Miller did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
CBC News has not independently verified Miller’s membership in the Facebook group.
The NDP’s statement also references a 2018 complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal by staff member Todd White, which alleged Miller had bullied employees, made racist, sexist and homophobic comments, and abused office resources to campaign.
White was an active party volunteer, and, at the time, chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
The matter was “satisfactorily resolved,” according to the NDP, but Watson pointed to the alleged racist and homophobic remarks.
“Our party’s express expectation was that his behavior needed to change,” she stated, adding that for a while it did, and there were no “public or private complaints of homophobic, racist or Islamophobic behavior.”
However, the party said, an investigation into Hamilton’s public school board revealed the “old pattern” continuing.
Miller’s wife, Carole Paikin Miller, is a trustee for Ward 5 of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
Her time as a trustee has included controversy, including sanctions and calls for her resignation, following a report that concluded some trustees made racist comments toward a former student trustee named Ahona Mehdi.
One of the witnesses quoted in the report said a trustee, identified by Mehdi as Paikin Miller, could be heard “scoffing and muttering under their breath in indignation” when other board members discussed ending a program that put police officers in schools.
It’s unclear what, specifically, the NDP was referring to in terms of Miller and the school board’s investigation.
The party did say Miller made no direct public statements, but his “behavior and attitude were noted in the independent investigation.”
However, the NDP said his behavior “crossed any reasonable line” during Miller’s most recent vetting and the discovery of his membership in the Facebook group, said Watson.
Miller told The Canadian Press he planned to run as an Independent in Hamilton-East Stoney Creek, the riding he has represented since 2007, in the upcoming election.