MPP Randy Hillier faces nine charges after Ottawa convoy protest

Controversial MPP Randy Hillier was released on $35,000 bail and barred from communicating with alleged organizers of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” after he was arrested Monday on charges related to the protest and his social media posts.

Hillier was ordered not to have any contact with others charged after the Ottawa protest, including Tamara Lich, Chris Barber, Pat King, Steeve Charland and Tyson “Freedom George” Billings.

He is also not allowed to post comments online about the convoy, or about mandates regarding COVID-19 vaccination or masks.

The Independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston called into an Ottawa courtroom from a police station, where he surrendered Monday morning on nine charges, including counselling an indictable offence, counselling an uncommitted indictable offence, mischief, assaulting an officer and obstructing/resisting an officer.

His lawyer, David Anber, told the Star that the 64-year-old MPP denies all allegations against him, and said he doesn’t believe the Crown has enough evidence to assert that he committed an assault.

Crown lawyer Tim Wightman outlined the allegations against Hillier, including an incident on Jan. 29 — the first full day of the protest that lasted three weeks and occupied the capital — when he was allegedly part of a group including People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier that tried to access Parliament Hill.

Wightman said Hillier is alleged to have thrown aside a metal barrier to allow more people to flow past a security checkpoint, and that he also used his “shoulder and hip to push” an officer with the Parliamentary Protective Service out of the way “so that the group could force their way past him.”

Three of the charges relate to a social media post on Feb. 19, in which Hillier responded to an Ottawa police statement asking the public not to call the 911 emergency line to avoid clogging the system during the crisis.

Hillier’s post urged people to “keep calling,” and went on to say that “in a democracy, expressing yourself is a fundamental freedom,” Wightman said.

Over the next five days, Wightman told the court that Ottawa police received a “surge” of “malicious calls” to 911, as well as 274 calls to its public communications services.

Anber countered that while the tweet may have been “awkwardly worded,” the Crown will need to prove Hillier intended for people to flood police phone lines.

Wightman said the allegations relate to Hillier’s own video documentation and social media posts during the convoy protests, including posts where he encouraged people to join the demonstrators.

Those included a post on Twitter on Feb. 18, as police started to move to clear the occupation, in which Hillier allegedly stated that protesters should form a “square and hold firm” if they “see the heavy horse,” Wightman said.

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 in this spring’s election because “the political system is broken.”

He is scheduled to return to court on May 4.

With files from Rob Ferguson

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