BROCKVILLE -- An Ontario MPP is facing backlash after sharing a photo of a large family gathering this week, in apparent defiance of provincial lockdown rules.

Randy Hillier has been outspoken about provincial restrictions throughout the pandemic and posted a picture on social media on Dec. 27 of what appears to be his family celebrating Christmas dinner.

The happy scene goes against the provincial lockdown rules prohibiting indoor social gatherings with anyone outside of your household.

On Twitter, many commenters denouncing the independent MPP, saying they have lost loved ones to covid-19 and calling him stupid and selfish.

But others are supporting him, wishing Hillier a Merry Christmas and thanking him for taking a stand

The Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit released a statement to CTV News Ottawa from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paula Stewart saying:

“Our experience is that social gatherings do lead to other people being infected. This affects each person that will go out to their workplaces or schools and daycare centres. The LGLDHU has a form on the ‘Contact Us’ section of our website where people can make an official complaint about concerns they have within the scope of the pandemic shutdown. We follow up on complaints that violate the requirements. We have been made aware of Randy Hillier’s post and gathering.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford refused to comment on the situation on Tuesday and emails to Hillier’s office asking for comment have not been returned.

But the Lanark-Frontenac-kingston MPP did comment on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, explaining the hashtag he used in the original tweet, ‘we are living a lie’, saying

•             The risk of COVID has been exaggerated,

•             Lockdowns and isolation are causing greater damage than COVID, and

•             there are far better solutions available

Hillier did not cite any sources to those claims.

RobE, who lives in Hillier’s riding and started a petition asking he be penalized for the gathering, says many people locally disagree with his views.

“I have a real issue with it. The business that I work for is greatly affected by COVID. We’re in the events space and our events are typically 500 to 1,000 to 20,000, 40,000 people. So we’re greatly affected and everyone in my company and anyone that I know, family friends, etc. Have been doing our part.” Eady said.

“We’ve done everything to try and minimize the effects on our business but also follow what our laws and follow what our rules are, follow what our health agencies are saying.” he added.

“A lot of people wonder, just the same as I do, why he is on this bandwagon to try to create division than rather to try to bring people together and say ‘Hey, lets work through this.’ If there are issues with some of the lockdowns, well, let’s figure it out how we might change those at the Queen’s Park level rather them him looking for a fight.” Eady says.

The gathering could see Hillier slapped with a $750 fine for failing to comply to an emergency order.

Lanark County OPP told CTV News on Tuesday that they are aware of the situation and continue to look into the incident.