Hamilton MPP files $1.3-million lawsuit against NDP, Horwath over ouster

·4 min read
Independent MPP Paul Miller held a press conference outside his Queen’s Park office on April 27, 2022. Miller was ousted from the Ontario NDP after the party said it found inappropriate material on his Facebook page. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Independent MPP Paul Miller held a press conference outside his Queen’s Park office on April 27, 2022. Miller was ousted from the Ontario NDP after the party said it found inappropriate material on his Facebook page. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Hamilton MPP Paul Miller has filed a $1.3-million lawsuit against the Ontario New Democratic Party and leader Andrea Horwath alleging discrimination, conspiracy and breach of contract.

The party ousted the longtime representative for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek in March, pointing to a "pattern of troubling behaviour" that indicated he may "harbour Islamophobic, homophobic and racist views."

In the 14-page statement of claim filed Friday, Miller said he's seeking a combined $1.3 million in damages for breach of contract and duty of good faith, conspiracy and discrimination.

He's also seeking a declaration he was "discriminated against on the grounds of age, marital and family status," it reads.

The lawsuit names the Ontario NDP, party officials Michael Balagus, Lucy Watson and Horwath, who serves as MPP for Hamilton Centre.

The allegations have not been tested in court.

When asked for comment, the Ontario NDP shared a one-line statement by email.

"We're confident that the party and our leader did the right thing, and that Mr. Miller's claim will go nowhere," read a quote attributed to Watson, the party's provincial director.

A separate statement Watson issued on March 23 said Miller had been ejected from the party because of a "pattern of behaviour [that] crossed any reasonable line," including membership in the anti-Muslim Facebook group called Worldwide Coalition Against Islam, which was uncovered during the vetting process.

"Any other candidate and any other caucus member — in any context and attempting to run for any reasonable party — would be disqualified for ever having been a member of an Islamophobic, racist group," her statement read.

MPP says there were 'unauthorized logins'

Miller fired back during a media conference at Queen's Park on April 27, where he said he had never used social media.

Information technology investigators Miller hired found at least a dozen people in his office have had access to the social media pages since it was created in 2007, he claimed.

"We have conclusive evidence that there was multiple, unauthorized logins to our account from multiple devices in multiple cities," said Miller at the time.

Dan Taekema/CBC
Dan Taekema/CBC

His lawsuit states Watson contacted him on March 17 about "disturbing" content on his Facebook account.

The MPP said the only evidence he was provided was a screenshot of a Facebook notification that said "You stopped being a member of WCAI (Worldwide Coalition Against Islam)."

During his press conference at Queen's Park in April, Miller passed out printouts of the post, which was dated Jan. 30, 2018, and included the name "Paul" at the top.

The lawsuit states there's "no record" of him joining the Facebook group or participating in it and that the IP address associated with the Facebook post are not connected to his home or any of his devices.

The real reason he was removed from the party, Miller claims, was his age and marital status.

He alleges he was contacted by Balagus in February and asked if he planned to run again. When Miller, who is 71, said that he did, the party official told him it wasn't a good idea given his age and that the NDP would not support him, the lawsuit states.

Miller's wife mentioned in suit

The statement of claim also says Balagus suggested Miller's wife and her role as a trustee with Hamilton's public school board was another reason not to run.

Miller and his staff recorded a call between Balagus and Zahid Butt, the riding president, where it was suggested people would not like it if he was nominated again, according to the legal document.

"There will be people, very upset, when Paul is nominated. And it is based, primarily on what his wife has been up to," an excerpt provided in the statement of claim read in part.

Miller's wife, Carole Paikin Miller, is a trustee for Ward 5 of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

Carole Paikin Miller/Facebook
Carole Paikin Miller/Facebook

Her time as a trustee has included controversy, such as sanctions and calls for her resignation, following a report that concluded some trustees made racist comments toward a former student trustee named Ahona Mehdi.

One of the witnesses quoted in the report said a trustee, identified by Mehdi as Paikin Miller and her husband, could be heard "scoffing and muttering under their breath in indignation" when other board members discussed ending a program that put police officers in schools.

Miller's lawsuit states the MPP complied with the NDP's vetting process and says that "no concerns" were raised by the party since he was first elected in 2007.

The MPP said he intends to run as an independent, but says the NDP's actions have left him at a "disadvantage" without staff or finances.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting