We’re living in stressed times and that is starting to show in some of our discourse more so than usual. That is extending onto social media, a place where things are usually pretty bad when it comes to respectful discussion as it gets really worse. We’re all used to trolls online and the crap they can spew. But one of the upsides of social media is that it allows a space for experts and people with knowledge that can help everyone can speak out and be heard.

During COVID it’s the voices of medical professionals on social media that are helping inform people, helping us sift through all the crap and giving us a touch point. One such professional that I’ve popped in on over the years is Dr. Lisa Habermehl of Red Lake, Ontario. She always has good observations about the state of the medical system in the North and how things are looking on the ground. She’s also well respected in her field and across partisan lines, as she was named to Premier Doug Ford’ Council on Improving Health Care and Ending Hallway Medicine.

You’d think all of that would make her perspective a respected one and appreciated during a global pandemic, even on social media. You’d surely think that respect would extend to elected leaders on social media too. Yet this weekend an ugly display took place that was not only shameless and disturbing, but it was also typical of the perpetrator responsible for it:

Seriously folks, that’s the state of things in 2020. Randy Hillier is an ass, we all knew that already, yet even by Randy’s ignorant and nutty low standards, this is a new low. Not only does Randy want to continue to ignore basic health and safety standards in this pandemic, but he’s also now attacking respected medical professionals with more knowledge and dignity in their little fingers than Hillier has in his entire hateful being.

What makes this all the worse to me is that all Dr. Habermehl is going is pointing to measures the province itself has called on. Did you know that in many workplaces in Ontario right now eye protection is as much as part of COVID precautions as a mask? My wife teaches and in her school board, they might wear a mask and a face shield all day long and if they don’t have that, they can’t be close to their students.

Yet instead of a reasonable discussion about the facts, Hillier did was Hillier has always done, which is launch personal attacks and use ignorance. It’s his stock and trade, but this time feels very different. Instead of acting with the dignity and respect that we expect from a Member of Provincial Parliament, Hillier acted like the worst of the trolls on social media. That’s a behaviour that’s beneath what we’d expect from the community at large, and far below that of our elected representatives. And of course, thanks to Hillier’s crap, a flood of his troll brethren was unleashed on this doctor whose only “crime” was pointing to the medical consensus out there.

Randy Hillier owes Dr. Habermehl a sincere and complete apology, but we know that won’t be coming. I’d hope that Hillier’s MPP colleagues will take up this disgusting attack on a dedicated professional during a global pandemic in the legislature and censure him accordingly. If Hillier wants to be the enfant terrible of Queen’s Park, that’s his right, but if he decides to act like a petulant child he should be treated and punished as a petulant child would.

In the meantime, I want to tip my hat to Dr. Habermehl for not only speaking up, but for having dealt with this drama with grace. She’s the kind of medical professionals that we all should want in our communities and Red Lake is fortunate to have her. She deserves a full and complete apology from Mr. Hiller because what he did was shameless. Unfortunately that’s unlikely to come because you can’t expect those who have no shame to be ashamed and one of the true shames in this situation is that the people of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston continue to be represented by such an ignorant, disrespectful buffoon. And yeah, I feel no need to apologize for pointing out that fact because unlike Hillier, I actually have facts on my side.

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