Wednesday, October 30, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Horwath kicks heckler to back row

Hamilton East-Stoney Creek New Democrat MPP Paul Miller has been booted to the back row at Queen’s Park by leader Andrea Horwath for what opponents made an issue out of in the 2011 election — his loud heckling.
Miller said he was called Sunday by NDP House leader Gilles Bisson and told he was being moved from sitting behind Horwath to “a new seat.” It follows a dispute he had with Horwath about toning it down.

The dispute last Thursday in the legislature was not picked up by Hansard, the official legislature record.

Miller said Monday that he would not discuss “internal conflicts” with the press, but said he was “caught off guard, and a little surprised” by the action.

“I said, ‘OK, whatever,'” Miller said, adding that Horwath and Bisson will have to explain their reasons for moving him.

He wouldn’t say if he believes this might hurt him with his constituents in the next election, which could come in the spring.

“I’m not going to make predictions on that,” said Miller. “I have no idea. You’d have to ask Andrea about it. The bottom line is it was, it is, and the results will talk for themselves.”

In the 2011 campaign, the Liberals, PCs and Green party all made an issue of Miller’s behaviour in the legislature, with Liberal cabinet minister Sophia Aggelonitis calling his heckling and behaviour “just so awful.” Miller offered no regrets and said that he was passionate about voicing strong opinions for his constituents.

“I’m Paul and that’s what the people of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek voted for,” he said Monday.

Asked if there is a rift between him and Horwath, Miller had no comment — or on his conversation with Horwath last week. “I get along with her, usually,” he added.

Horwath and Miller have not been the best of friends over the years. She supported city councillor Sam Merulla against Miller for the riding nomination in July 2007. Miller won.

He backed MPP Michael Prue over the Hamilton Centre MPP for the leadership in March 2009.

Miller did not lose any of his shadow cabinet posts (Tourism, Culture and Sport) in the dispute. And the charges against him in 2011 didn’t wash with voters. He was re-elected with 51.7 per cent of the vote. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)