Since Saturday’s events at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, the debate around what happened there, how it should have been prevented and what both governments and individuals need to do going forward has been making the rounds. I had my two cents on it here on the weekend, and simply put, I believe this is the next big challenge that we’ve got coming. But it turns that someone more consequential than yours truly had some views on this topic, ones that weren’t the least bit helpful:
Ahh yes, Randy Hillier, Queen’s Park’s curmudgeonly Independent MPP. The same guy who felt that the middle of the pandemic was a good time to throw a temper tantrum in the Ontario Legislature and deny unanimous consent to extend Ontario’s emergency orders. That “act of personal glory” delayed this by a few hours, but gave Hillier the one thing that he craves more than anything else; 5 minutes of attention.
It turns out that this weekend Hillier also saw what happened in that crowded park in Toronto and saw something different than the rest of us. No, he didn’t see a public health disaster that prompted Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams to advise that park-goers from Saturday should self-isolate for 14 days. He didn’t see a problem in those who were acting selfishly. No, Hillier saw something totally different:
Yes you see in Randy’s world, one that I admit has always felt a little kooky, the problem is not those people “giving the middle finger” from a struggling generation to the rest of the community. He sees no problem with putting the public health of others at risk, no. He sees people that have “come to a decision that for themselves enjoying life is an acceptable risk.” Not their risk of course, because it’s the lives of others they are putting at risk and to that Hillier tells us to pipe now and “not be condescending but understanding” of those people who have decided that their Saturday afternoon of fun is more important than if someone else’s grandparents or loved ones die as a result. Heck, I bet that he even was quietly cheering on those people who were defecating on people’s front lawns near the park, because that surely was another middle finger to someone who had it coming, right?
If he wasn’t done yet, he leans into one of the oldest tropes that it seems that some conservative-minded folks seem to lean on the most. Why don’t we “ban bungee jumping and booze, swimming pools are also too dangerous, skydiving, smoking dope and using chainsaws.” Yes, I could be struck down by lighting, Hell grandpa could to. Why should I follow public health guidelines if I could be run down by a moving truck too? Or so goes these non-thinking thoughts.
As I pointed out in another piece on Hillier, his riding has been one of the hardest hit by Covid-19 in the entire province. You’d think that might make him more sympathetic but to assume that would be to not know Randy Hillier. When Hillier says things like that Covid-19 has allegedly “locked down people’s ability to think, or if you do think to apologize for the transgression”, that’s pure, unvarnished Hillier. It doesn’t matter that he’s 100% wrong and an even larger percentage more ignorant about the fact, that’s who he is. It always has been and even if politicians as far out there as Doug Ford can grow in this moment, Randy Hillier has no ability to. Or at least we are forced to assume so because his complete lack of empathy for his fellow human beings gives the impression that either he can’t or he simply refuses to. I guess that either of those is completely possible.
The ugly irony of this situation is I remember when Randy Hillier was this same fool, leading his landowner’s association in Eastern Ontario and setting rhetorical fires all over at will. You could tell that in running for public office that he wanted the legitimacy that camp with his seat and the title Member of Provincial Parliament. You would think that even he would get the responsibilities that come with that position, especially in the hardest times like these. But instead Hillier has shrank in amazing ways. He’s shown himself to be selfish, rude, and downright unworthy of his office. Those are things that many may have thought about him before but even his most fervent critics thought that we could not be so bad in a crisis like this. Yet there he is, doing that.
What’s worse is that when you read those tweets from Hillier you can see someone projecting his views onto this situation. He’s the one giving that “giant middle finger” to everyone else. He’s the one who came to the “decision that for themselves enjoying life is an acceptable risk” of the lives of your friends, family and neighbours. He’s done the math and, in his mind, you’re expendable as long as Randy gets to do whatever the Hell he wants. It’s he who rhetorically asks, “are we a free society?” when he knows full well that freedom means nothing if you’re dead. Or it means much less if it means losing your loved ones. That’s him, projecting on that crowd of thousands in Toronto.
And when he says that we should “not be condescending but understanding”, he’s not asking for understanding for those people in Toronto. Oh no, he’s asking for understanding for him, his warped words and his complete lack of tact and decency towards his fellow citizens whom he’s willing to sacrifice so that he can bungy jump or use his chainsaw in peace. As if any of those things were actually at risk. Sorry Randy but you’re not getting any understanding here, nor respect for your words nor your position. You only get respect when you give it, and when you refuse to respect rights of others to health, your concerns fall far to the wayside. You don’t get any respect for being an MPP because through your words and actions, you have continually refused to show that role any respect yourself. It’s time for Mr. Hillier to take his leave and head off into the Lanark County sunset. As he proved again with this incident, it’s time for him to go and let someone who actually has some empathy for his or her constituents take the wheel from here.