Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP Randy Hillier was temporarily suspended from Twitter on Saturday, following a string of controversial tweets that encouraged his followers to shame mask wearers. The controversial MPP also alleged that “there is no pandemic” and that “we were duped.”
On the Thursday leading up to the suspension, Hillier made statements suggesting that mask wearers were “spreading a lie,” a statement which has largely been debunked by the medical community. “There is no (COVID-19) pandemic & never was, we were duped” said Hillier on Thursday.
Followers began to take note of the account suspension after his daughter tweeted on Saturday, stating that Hillier’s account had been suspended. Followers both applauded and decried the actions by Twitter. In one instance, a user admitted to reporting Hillier’s statements, causing that user to be thanked. Other users decried the suspension. “I say we thank Randy for speaking out against the craziness and loss of our freedoms and livelihoods,” said a user.
Despite the reports against Hillier’s posts, the MPP’s account was restored by Twitter after 24 hours. “I’m back. Thanks for all the support,” said Hillier on Sunday morning. “The trolls and bots got a workout yesterday reporting me. To appease the unruly mob Twitter put me in time out. I’m recharged and ready for more.” Twitter has not restored the initial tweet and now states that “This Tweet violated Twitter rules.”
The Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP was charged on November 26th after holding an anti-lockdown rally at Queen’s Park, in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act. Since then, Hillier has continued to defy public health and emergency order directives. Most recently, Hillier partnered with other far right Canadian politicians including MP Derek Sloan, People’s Party Founder Maxime Bernier to create an “end the lockdown.”
Public Health and Government officials have continued to denounce Hillier’s statements. “I urge the public to ignore you and heed the advice of trained health care professionals. Continue to practice social distancing, wear masks, and keep everyone safe,” said Jeanette Dietrich in an open letter to Hillier in December.
Following the Capitol Riot on February 6th, Twitter has taken direct aim at individuals who incite conspiracy theories and false election claims. In some instances, a notice clarifying that a tweet may be false or misleading has been included.