Patrick Brown Resigns Amid Misconduct Allegations

Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown

By: Laura Steiner

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has resigned following sexual misconduct allegations.  His resignation came in a statement released in the early morning hours of January 25.

It followed an unusual news conference called by Brown at about 10 p.m. last night.  CTV National News on twitter indicated a top story on detailed sexual misconduct allegations against Brown dating from when he was an Member of Parliament (MP).

Brown appeared flustered, and upset as he delivered a short statement denying his accusers and then left the podium.  “I know that the court of public opinion moves fast.  I have instructed my attorneys to ensure that these allegations are addressed where they should be: in a court of law.  In short, I reject these accusations in the strongest possible terms,” he said.  He did not take any questions.

Shortly after his Campaign manager,  Deputy Campaign Manager, and Chief of Staff announced via a statement they were resigning their posts.  The trio had advised him to step aside.  “Since our view is that this advice was in the best interest of the PC Party we have therefore resigned our posts,” it read in part.

Brown resigned in a statement at about 1:30 a.m. this morning saying in part that defeating Kathleen Wynne was the primary goal of the party.  “For this reason, after consulting caucus, friends, and family I have decided to step down as Leader of the Ontario PC Party.  I will remain on as MPP while I definitively clear my name from these false allegations,” he said.

Wynne, Horwath, Trudeau React

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne applauded Brown’s accusers for coming forward.  “They did a very difficult thing, and they’ve been carrying this for years,” she said in part.  One accuser was in high school when the alleged incident occurred, the other was university age when the incident happened.  Brown served as MP in the Barrie area.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath went one step further calling for Brown’s resignation.  “He deserves his day in court, but no person can lead a political party in this province with allegations like these hanging over his head,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.   He stressed the seriousness of these allegations. “We take these allegations extremely seriously whenever they come up,” he said in media reports.  Brown’s accusers have so far remained anonymous.

The Progressive Conservative (PC) caucus meets tomorrow to talk about next steps.  North Bay MPP Vic Fedeli is rumoured to be a frontrunner for the interim leadership.

Read the details on these allegations in the CTV story here.

Update:28/1/2017: Fedeli named Interim Leader

PC Finance Critic Vic Fedeli has been voted in as an interim leader by his caucus colleagues.  “It is humbling and an honour to have the unanimous support of my friends in the Ontario PC Caucus and I graciously accept the position of Leader.”  Fedeli will be allowed to try for the permanent leadership at a convention to be held the end of March.

Other possible contenders include Caroline Mulroney, Rod Phillips, Doug Ford, Lisa McLeod, and Christine Elliott.  Milton MP Lisa Raitt has decided not to run.

Update: 30/1/2018: Fedeli out, Ford In, Dykstra Resigns

Interim Leader Vic Fedeli has announced he will remain ‘interim leader’.  Fedeli says he found the party to be a mess.”It has been a chaotic time for our party, and a steady hand is needed at the helm. We have learned our party is in much worse shape than we knew. Fixing this will be a massive undertaking. But it is essential, if we are to win the next election,” he said in a statement.  He has requested a review of approximately 200,000 party memberships.  The nomination process has was marked by allegations of intimidation in several ridings.

Former Toronto Councillor Doug Ford has announced he will run for the leadership.  He made a statement in his mother’s basement.  “Right now the party needs strong leadership.  Someone who is ready to clean up this mess, and take us into the June election,” he said.  Ford had previously stated he’d be running against Toronto Mayor John Tory in October’s municipal election.

Rick Dykstra has resigned his post as PC Party President.  Word of his decision came out Sunday night before a Macleans’ article was published detailing sexual assault allegations against him as an MP.  He has so far declined comment.  Dykstra still serves on the executive as past party president.  He has resisted pressure to resign that post as well.  Party executives are expected to unveil their plans for the convention this week.