TORONTO – There’s more friction within the ranks of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, as party Leader Tim Hudak has sent a second MPP to the backbenches.
Hudak has kicked outspoken MPP Randy Hillier out of his shadow cabinet — the second Tory MPP to be demoted by Hudak in a week.
This latest caucus trouble comes a week before Hudak has to face a potential leadership review.
Hillier was ousted as labour critic, accused of leaking a confidential e-mail.
Hudak said politics is a team sport and Hillier hasn’t been a team player.
“There’s been a pattern of behaviour that has been distracting Randy from what’s been a critical portfolio, and I think it’s strained considerably his relations with caucus,” the PC leader said.
In a statement, Hillier said he did not leak any confidential information.
He also said Hudak has demanded an apology and a retraction, but added that he would rather accept the demotion than sacrifice his integrity.
Earlier this week, Thornhill MPP Peter Shurman was ousted as finance critic for refusing to pay back a $20,000-housing allowance.
Hudak appointed Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton as the party’s new labour critic on Friday.
Hudak said he hasn’t finished shuffling his shadow cabinet, but won’t say if Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees will get demoted for insisting on a leadership review.
Below is the statement from Randy Hillier (Sept. 13):
It was with much disappointment that I was informed yesterday that I had been removed from my role as Ontario PC Labour Critic. It is a role that I have held since 2009 when Tim Hudak took over as Leader of our Party.
For years I have fought tirelessly against what I saw as wrongdoings and my constituents have always known that they could trust me to stand up for them regardless of the consequences.
Yesterday I was forced to face those consequences personally.
Three months ago I sent a private email to my Caucus colleagues sharing my concerns over a proposed piece of Legislation. Recently that correspondence was the basis of multiple news stories after it was leaked to the press.
In a call yesterday, Tim Hudak demanded that I both apologize for allegedly breaking Caucus confidentiality and to publicly retract the comments I had made in the aforementioned email.
I have never broken Caucus confidentiality and I have no doubt that any one of the reporters I spoke to regarding the recent news stories can corroborate just that.
I made it clear to Tim that under no circumstances would I retract the comments and concerns that I raised three months ago and that I still stand by to this day.
While I remain disappointed that this was the ultimatum I was forced to choose between, I would rather accept this demotion than sacrifice the integrity that my constituents have always expected from me.