TORONTO - Randy Hillier's talent for making a splash wherever he goes continues at Queen's Park where the freshly minted MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox-Addington has been appointed Ontario PC party Critic for Rural Affairs.
In addition, Hillier will join John O'Toole, MPP for Durham, as an Associate Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing, concentrating on small and rural municipalities.
"For years, I've been resolute in asserting our rural rights and will now escalate my opposition to these Liberal attacks," Hillier proclaimed.
Last month, Hillier's arrival at the Ontario legislature captured much more attention than expected from the average novice MPP, supported as it was by about 150 members of the Ontario Landowners' Association sitting in the visitors' gallery.
The OLA'ers sported matching "Back Off Government" T-shirts for which Hillier received unanimous consent from fellow MPPs for them to wear to signify membership "in this very important organization."
The former OLA president described the organization to his colleagues in the legislature as one promoting the principals of democracy, natural justice, and strong local government while focusing particularly on rural communities.
Seemingly at home in his new environment, Hillier wasted no time bringing the OLA mantra of property rights to the floor, asking Premier Dalton McGuinty to entrench them as a show of respect and to protect rural livelihoods.
"From mills to markets, to mines, the people of my riding are suffering at the hands of your government. Excessive and costly regulations, red tape and disrespect for democracy have become the stock-in-trade."
Welcoming him and congratulating Hillier on his win, McGuinty suggested that it'll soon become apparent the two politicians have a "significantly different perspective on the province".
He chided Hillier for championing an "anti-government movement." He countered that he, on the other hand, believes in government. But the Premier didn't answer the question. The closest he came was to pledge to work "hand in hand to enhance the special quality of life that is only to be found in rural Ontario."
Stating he's proud of his role as a dual critic, Hillier noted he has watched with "great angst" the Liberal government's "relentless assaults upon our rural economy, our rural institutions, and the rural heritage of justice and culture of freedom which built our great province."
While for the most part policies of the McGuinty government exemplify "ignorance on autopilot", Hiller said "the attacks on rural Ontario have been calculated and deliberate.
"The actions of this Toronto-centric government towards rural Ontario are as unique as they are unjust."