Written By: Gregory Staley
Written On: 2021-12-19
Jim Karahalios, the leader of the New Blue Party has gone on the record as stating that the Independent MPP from Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, Randy Hillier, is controlled opposition for the Ontario PC party. Mr. Karahalios says that Mr. Hillier has “cut a deal to get a subsidy with the PC government that he pretends to oppose.”
Mr. Hillier has amassed quite a following during his activism against Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions but is there merit to Mr. Karahalios’s allegations? We spoke to Mr. Hillier and Mr. Karahalios to find out.
According to Mr. Karahalios, Bill 254 was only an “element of a series of facts and evidence” that lined it all up – that proved to him that Mr. Hillier is controlled opposition for the Ontario PC party. We will leave that up to the reader to decide and simply do our best to present the evidence and statements of both Mr. Karahalios and Mr. Hillier on the matter.
Hillier, who backed Christine Elliott in the Ontario PC leadership race for party leader, told Diverge Media that In “June of 2019, after leaving the Conservative caucus” (he was kicked out), that he “launched a constitutional challenge” because the “Elections Financing Act was discriminatory against independent candidates and did not permit independent candidates to raise money for their re-election.”
Mr. Hillier says that he “argued that in the courts.” Mr. Hillier told Diverge Media’s Greg Staley that his lawyer, Asher Honickman “had discoveries and examinations throughout January of this year”. We have reached to Mr. Honickman but have yet to receive a response as of the time of the publishing of this article.
Mr. Hiller told Diverge Media that it was after discovery and examination had taken place that “the government realized that they were defeated and they made a “proposal” to him “that they would introduce a bill to remedy the constitutional failures of the Election Financing Act and permit independent members to raise money.”
Mr. Hillier stated that “Independent members were not permitted to collect the vote subsidy that political parties were able to get” and that he “made that fair for independent members and all independent members.”
There is a big exception, however, if you’re an independent member who started your own party – this subsidy isn’t extended to you. As is the case of Belinda Karahalios of the New Blue Party which was founded on Oct.12, 2020, and Registered just three months later on Jan. 7th of 2021.
Just three months after the New Blue Party was registered, Bill 254 was amended to allow Independents to raise money before the writ of an election and to allow independent MPP’s to collect a taxpayer subsidy based on the percentage of the vote they had obtained in the prior election – but why wasn’t this extended to Mrs. Karahalios and the New Blue Party?
Mr. Hillier said that when she founded her party he “had not won that constitutional challenge” and that is why he believes she started the party.
The issue is, Mr. Hillier never won a constitutional challenge. In the Global News article that covered the “victory” of the Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP, Mr. Hiller said that “when things really did start, it was a constitutional challenge to the law” – so it may have started as a constitutional challenge but even Mr. Hillier’s lawyer’s webpage on the case says that the case was never heard.
This may explain why Mr. Hillier became so volatile when I was persistent about obtaining the court filing number for the “constitutional court challenge” on the phone.
He told me that he has “got far too much fu**ing” on his “plate to be dicking around with bullshit allegations from an asshole like Jim Karahalios.”
He then said that if I wanted to look it up and didn’t believe him that I can Google it. He then concluded by stating emphatically that he was fed up wasting his time with an “asshole named Karahalios.”
The issue is that, as Mr. Karahalios pointed out in our phone call together addressing the allegations against Mr. Hillier, the lawsuit was never against the PC government, it was against Elections Ontario.
Mr. Karahalios told Diverge Media that “it wasn’t a settlement out of court because he was threatening to sue Elections Ontario – not the PC government. So there’s no settlement out of court with Elections Ontario in this process.”
Mr. Karahalios also explained that this is only half of the story.
“What he’s telling you doesn’t explain the other half which is the PC’s brought back that taxpayer subsidy and then extended to an independent. And there’s no argument in equality or a constitutional argument that you could say, that would say oh yea – the independent MPP deserves that taxpayer subsidy just like the political parties do.”
Mr. Karahalios explained further, “Let’s give Randy the benefit of the doubt and the PC’s saw it and said yea, it’s not fair that if you have a political party you can raise money before the writ but an independent can’t” but that doesn’t explain how he “convinced these fraudsters to give him a break behind the scenes – it doesn’t explain how he convinced them to give him the subsidy – the independents the subsidy but say if you’re Belinda and you start a new political party you don’t get the subsidy.“
Keep in mind, the New Blue party was registered on January 7th of 2021 before the amendment of bill 254 had taken place on April 19th of 2021.
Mr. Karahalios added that even if Mr. Hillier won some argument, he’s admitting that he’s for taxpayer subsidies for political parties and independents.
“Any way you break it, he cut a deal to get a subsidy with the PC government that he pretends to oppose. It was not a constitutional argument on the subsidy side.”
Driving home the point even further, the leader of the New Blue Party told us that the house leader doesn’t go in a meeting room and “hash out a constitutional argument,” adding “that’s not how that stuff works.”
Mr. Karahalios’s private conversation with Mr. Hillier was leaked to the PC Headquarters
Perhaps more compelling is the story that Mr. Karahalios told Diverge media about a private conversation he had with Mr. Hillier in June of 2020. Mr. Karahalios told Diverge Media that he had confided in Mr. Hillier that he was worried about his wife being kicked out of the PC party after he was removed from the PC leadership race.
Mr. Karahalios had told Mr. Hillier “that if they just kicked me out of a leadership on a national scale they might wait until the writ in 2022 and swap her out as a candidate because they don’t follow the constitution in the PC party.”
Mr.Karahalios: “A week before Belinda got kicked out of caucus I went and had a drink with Randy because I still thought Randy – I got fooled by Randy. I met him in 2015 and I thought he was like this harmless, kind of folksy guy. Like he’s just a down to earth kind of guy – I was totally fooled by him from 2015 all the way to 2020 and I’d experienced in the leadership campaign I was on the hostile Randy and he just like lashes out on email – I’m like alright maybe he’s not refined but he’s a smooth talker.
After I got kicked out of the federal leadership and he was an independent in 2020 I went in June for a drink with them in Toronto down the street from his apartment that he’s renting – and I just sat down with him and I’m like Randy have you heard anything about Belinda getting kicked out of caucus cause I’m really worried and I’ll be like flat-footed and my wife will be devastated – have you heard anything?”
According to Mr. Karahalios, Mr. Hillier responded by saying “No no, I haven’t heard that, I haven’t heard that Jim.”
Mr. Karahalios then asked a favour of Mr. Hillier, he asked that if Mr. Hillier heard anything about Belinda being kicked out to let him know and said that “if they do kick her out and she decides to start a party would you consider starting a party with the two of us?”
According to Mr. Karahalios, the Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP was open to the idea and that’s where the conversation was left.
The next week, Mr. Karahalios PC riding association President, Lillo Ognibene called Mr. Karahalios asking if he was starting a political party after receiving a call from Garrett Nielson at PC party headquarters.
“Keep in mind I hadn’t even talked about this idea with my wife at the time or the President of our PC riding association who is a good friend of the family. I had mentioned it to no one because I didn’t want to put like this idea in my wife’s head cause she was already paranoid being in this caucus with a bunch of liars – I don’t want to put in her head the idea that they’re gonna kick you out right – so I just didn’t want to stress her out anymore after a stressful leadership I was in. So the next week she’s messaging me I can’t vote for this bill – bill 195 the lockdown bill.”
Jim told his wife Belinda that if she wanted to vote against the bill to vote against it.
Mr. Karahalios told Diverge Media that she “was at Queen’s park and she decided to vote against it” but was worried that they were going to kick her out. Mr. Karahalios responded by saying that “they’re not gonna kick you out for one vote like that’s ridiculous” but ultimately Belinda was kicked out for her decision to vote against bill-195, the lockdown bill.
“He calls Lillo (Garrett Nielson) the Cambridge PC riding President and Lillo calls me and he says are you starting a political party and you didn’t tell me?” Mr. Karahalios was taken aback by the question.
“I’m like what? He’s like Garrett just called me from PC headquarters and said I know Jim is starting a political party and you guys better not support Belinda on the Cambridge PC board and her decision to vote.”
Mr. Karahalios told Mr. Ognibene that the only person whom he had mentioned the idea of a party to was over drinks with Randy a week ago.
He told Lillo that Mr. Hillier must have “went and told PC headquarters about this idea so they got it in their head” that he was starting a party.
Between the leak to PC party headquarters, the amendments to bill-254 that brought back taxpayer subsidies for independents but not to new political parties and Mr. Hillier’s aggressive style of activism (see video below), Mr. Karahalios may have a valid argument to his assertion that Mr. Hillier is controlled opposition.
We will follow up with more on these allegations and our interview with Mr. Karahalios and Mr. Hillier in another article.