| May 10, 2007

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Feature Article - May 10, 2007

Tory nominee brings LFL&A province-wide attention

by Jeff Green

On June 10, at the Lions Hall in Verona, the LFL&A Ontario Liberal riding association will choose either Ian Wilson and Bill MacDonald as their candidate in the provincial election that is slated for October 10th.

The selection will not likely be the subject of editorial comment in the Toronto dailies, as was the selection of their main opponent by the LFL&A Conservative party this past Saturday in Perth, Randy Hillier.

Randy Hillier defeated Brent Cameron and Jay Brennan on the first ballot to win the nomination. In his nomination speech he took dead aim against the Liberal Party, saying the government’s present path is “leading to the Liberal destruction of rural Ontario.”


An advocate of what he termed the “rural revolution” in his days as leader of the Ontario Landowners’ Association, Hillier has come to the attention of the urban media for a presumed bias against urban Ontario.

He denies this bias, telling the News in an interview this week, “they say I am against urban and everything that is good and liberal. I’m not against urban people. I just don’t think they should tell rural people how to carry on their business.”

Hillier does not only advocate for smaller government, he advocates for less government regulation, regulations that he says have had a major impact in rural Ontario. Although his opposition to the Clean Water Act, marketing boards, the Species at Risk Act, and land trusts are well known, Hillier’s disdain for government regulations extends further.

A case in point, he says, is the Hershey’s plant in Smiths Falls, which is closing down later this year, throwing 500 people out of work in a town of 9,000.

“It wasn’t just one thing that made Hershey’s decide to leave, but remember what happened last year when they found contaminated lecithin had been delivered to the plant. Hershey’s found it, they closed the plant, they cleaned it up, but then they had to wait another four weeks, with government inspectors running through the plant, before they could open. That cost them $14 million. Add that to Occupational Health and Safety costs, WSIB costs, and you go on and on.

“Hershey’s never asked to negotiate before leaving. They could see nothing that government could do to make them stay. So they left.”

When asked how he will handle the compromises that will be necessary as a member of a party that has been in government and is responsible for some of the regulations he says are choking rural Ontario, Randy Hillier said “I don’t like the word compromise, it is used as an excuse to stop seeking solutions to problems. I have this complete faith that sensible and reasonable people will find solutions.”

In the past few months, he has been travelling around the riding, learning about some issues that he says he never heard about living in Lanark County. One of those is the Pine Lake development in North Frontenac, an issue that is familiar to readers of the News.

While he does not want to wade directly into the issue, Randy Hillier did say, “There should be one justice system for all. The more you look at these things, it comes down to realising that when you create privileges you create problems, even if in this case it is to deal with a previous wrong. It shouldn’t have taken generations to restore a previous wrong, but creating special privileges will solve nothing.”

He favours dealing with Algonquin rights through a land transfer. “If they want their own community, their own land base, they should have it, and they should be allowed to do with their land what they wish.

Another matter of interest to people in North Frontenac, and much of the riding as well, is mining rights. Hillier said “the Crown ought to make subsurface rights available to surface rights owners at a reasonable market value, to put thing to rights.”

While this position has been taken by mining action groups throughout the riding, they have had little luck convincing either Liberal or Conservative governments to take any action in this direction.

Here again, Hillier says it is simply a matter of finding solutions based on “sense and reason. Politicians are fearful of controversy; they have become puppets of the bureaucracy, spending their time helping people get birth certificates or health cards. This will have to change.”

What Hillier would not do, is speculate as to his potential role in a conservative government. He did say that he has talked to some of the other rural candidates, and has found sympathy for his views, although as far as he knows he is the only member of the Ontario Landowners’ Association who will be running.

Randy Hillier will be holding public meetings throughout the riding this summer.

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