By Jerry Dias
If anyone should have a guilty conscience, it’s Randy Hillier.
Guilty of intolerance.
Guilty of shooting his mouth off.
Guilty of making a complete fool of himself.
And, just this week, guilty of casually, and apparently for the sake of cheap humour, questioned the integrity of an upstanding federal cabinet minister with his flippant comments.
In a moment contrasting anything Hillier, an eastern Ontario MPP, would be incapable of matching, Federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen spoke recently about his experiences with racism in Canada.
Hussen, the first Canadian of Somali decent to sit in cabinet, showed great strength and compassion in relating his story of being followed whenever he goes into a store, and how “instinctively my back gets up when a police cruiser comes behind me as I drive.”
It was a moment of honesty and vulnerability meant to help those hurting in the face of racist incidents at the hands of police in Canada and the United States, incidents that are tearing apart dozens of American cities already pushed to the brink by COVID-19.
Hillier was having none of it.
“A guilty conscience?” he tweeted.
With three words, Hillier not only put his own ignorance on display, he managed to toss off a disgustingly racist remark against a decent man.
Quite a feat. Not that I’m surprised.
Hillier was tossed out of his own party last year by Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford after disrespecting the parents of children with autism by responding with “yadda, yadda, yadda” when they raised their concerns about cuts by Ford’s government.
Hillier has a history of disrespectful behaviour. In 2017, Tay Valley Township in his home riding found him guilty of bullying staff at the township. Hillier had refused to even participate in the investigation.
In 2016: he was forced to apologize after making disparaging remarks about NDP Leader Andrea Horwath after she wore a head covering while speaking to a Muslim cleric.
He also once referred to members of the Lanark Landowners Association, a group he founded, as “nutbars.”
All this shows a history of disrespect for others, a man prone to intolerance, bullying and racism while hiding behind childish attempts at humour to keep the spotlight on himself.
The worst part is, he’s not alone. Too many of his former Conservative colleagues have proven themselves to be not much better lately.
Take Ed Ammar. The founding chairman of Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party responded to Hussein’s touching story of systemic racism with a racist tweet of his own: “Don’t bring this to Canada you f***** loser.”
He later apologized, but in the process undermined the safety and security of every person of colour.
Then Stockwell Day, just when we thought we could finally put him behind us, crawled out from under a rock to deny that systemic racism exists in Canada, and even tried to equate the bullying he faced as a child for wearing glasses with the deadly racism faced by people of colour.
Day was promptly dumped from the board of Telus over his remarks, and later resigned as a strategic adviser at business law firm McMillan LLP.
“At McMillan LLP, we believe that systemic racism is real and that it can only be addressed when each of us – as individuals and organizations – commits to meaningful change,” tweeted Teresa Dufort, a partner and CEO at McMillan.
Conservatives like to muse about why I’m so hard on them, why I keep criticizing their backwards views and calling them out for their destructive polices – and encouraging people to vote for anybody but them.
Really? Read the column again. It’s not me. It’s you.