Ford’s chief of staff sues Independent MPP Randy Hillier for $100,000
|Toronto Star 12 Jun 2019 at 11:51|
Premier Doug Ford’s chief of staff is seeking $100,000 in damages from Independent MPP Randy Hillier, saying the former Progressive Conservative posted “blatantly false” comments on Twitter accusing him of illegally destroying ballots in the party’s leadership race last year.
Dated April 29, the statement of claim filed by Dean French also says Hillier’s “outrageous and completely unsupported allegations” stated French used his own email server to cast “fraudulent” votes in the 2017 leadership race of the United Conservative Party in Alberta.
French’s lawyer Gavin Tighe says in the 12-page statement of claim that Hillier (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston), who was suspended from Ford’s caucus Feb. 20 and later expelled, posted the widely shared tweets on April 11.
None of the claims have been tested in court.
“The defamatory tweets were fabricated by Mr. Hillier and maliciously published by him in relation to his misplaced animosity against Mr. French, who he wrongfully blamed for his expulsion from the PC caucus rather than taking any responsibility himself,” says the statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
“These tweets were posted with the intention of attempting to destroy Mr. French’s reputation by accusing him of having participated in criminal activity and election fraud both in Alberta and Ontario,” the claim says.
An apology issued by Hillier the day after the tweets was “inadequate and did not properly retract, address or fit the false and libelous allegations,” the statement of claim says.
Hillier declined to comment Wednesday but his lawyer said he plans to fight the lawsuit.
“Mr. Hillier intends to vigorously defend the claim,” said lawyer Asher Honickman. No statement of defence has been filed.
The statement of claims goes on to say that “the defamatory tweets were but a chapter in Mr. Hillier’s ill-founded and baseless campaign against Mr. French and others were he sought to make Mr. French the scapegoat for his expulsion.”
“Mr. Hillier has demonstrated clear animus towards Mr. French in widely broadcast interviews,” says the statement, citing a March 28 appearance on TVO’s The Agenda in which he “falsely accused Mr. French of perpetrating a within the PC caucus.”
Ford ejected Hillier from the PC caucus for allegedly heckling the parents of autistic children after question period in the legislature.
But the maverick MPP maintained he was saying “yada-yada-yada” to New Democrat MPP Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain) — not the families in the public galleries.