By: Laura Steiner
Let’s face it. If it weren’t for former Progressive Conservatives’ (PC) Leader Patrick Brown’s press conference Wednesday night, he wouldn’t be the story. He’d figure into it as the accused party, but we’d still be struggling with these allegations, debating if they were true. If he could still stay on as leader. We might even have the names of his accusers and be talking about them, and their pasts. If he would’ve stayed quiet as he was told to, this is a different story right now.
But he did. He stood at the podium rattled, desperate, and alone. He gave a statement regarding allegations that weren’t fully public until about 5-10 minutes after the press conference. And then he refused to take an questions. He ran from the room, in a way that frankly made him look guilty of something. That’s what gave Glen McGregor’s report a ring of truth. Now we’re not talking about his leadership, or the party, or the newly unveiled platform. We’re not talking about the party’s lead in the polls. We’re not even talking about his accusers’ identities, which should probably have been partially revealed.
We’re talking about who knew what when. Lisa McLeod has revealed she’d heard rumours of allegations before Christmas. She never took the issue further. Former party executives are revealing Brown’s behavior was supposedly an open secret. A follow-up on CTV News revealed it was widely known among young women in Barrie about ‘going to Patrick’s house.’ We’re talking about a leadership convention, and who should lead the party. We’re talking about if the party even still stands a chance of winning an election coming in June. All of this is good for the party; it drums up interest, and financial support. This might be one of the most important leadership conventions in Ontario’s 150 year history.
But shouldn’t someone spare some thought for Brown? This kind of rumour, and speculation would have likely ended in his resignation in any case. The party couldn’t have another whiff of controversy around in an election year. They could weather the nomination controversies, or the misconduct allegations. Having to fight both would finish their party’s chances in the election. These allegations have gone a step further and likely have destroyed his reputation. Every time you google Patrick Brown these allegations are there. True or not, the stories have done their job.
What about what we’ve done to ourselves? Because now we find ourselves in a world where it’s possible to accuse someone on the evening news, and find them fired within 12 hours. All without an investigation. All without a chance to confront an accuser. Is this the society we want? For allegations to be the end of the story? Allegations like this should be held to a process, and questioned. We should always think ahead to the consequences of our actions. Brown’s life may have been ruined on the say-so of two people whose identity he may never find out. How is that fair?