ONTD Political

Patrick Brown resigns as Ontario PC leader after sexual misconduct allegations

10:38 am - 01/25/2018
Patrick Brown stepped down as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario early Thursday, only hours after denying allegations of sexual misconduct.

Patrick Brown stepped down as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario early Thursday, only hours after denying allegations of sexual misconduct.

"These allegations are false and have been difficult to hear," said Brown in a statement issued just before 1:30 a.m. ET.

"However, defeating [Ontario Premier] Kathleen Wynne in 2018 is more important than one individual. For this reason, after consulting with caucus, friends and family I have decided to step down as Leader of the Ontario PC Party. I will remain on as a MPP while I definitively clear my name from these false allegations."

The allegations and the resignation leave the Ontario PCs in turmoil and without a leader, with the provincial election scheduled for June 7.

Brown called a snap news conference at the provincial legislature on Wednesday night to deny the allegations, calling them "categorically untrue."

The conference came just ahead of a CTV News report detailing allegations by two women dating back to when Brown was a federal MP.

CBC News has not independently confirmed the allegations.

In an appearance only about a minute long, a visibly distressed Brown said he had learned about the allegations a couple of hours earlier.

"I want to say: These allegations are false. Every one of them," he said. "I will defend myself as hard as I can, with all the means at my disposal.

"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."

Brown stood alone at a podium during the news conference, walked briskly away without taking questions and left in a waiting vehicle.

The pressure on Brown to resign ramped up immediately. His top three campaign staff quit, saying they had urged Brown to step down, but he had refused. Then his caucus members held a conference call, during which MPPs demanded Brown resign.

"In the interest of the Ontario PC Party we unanimously agree that Mr. Brown cannot continue serving as the Leader," said a statement from the caucus, issued by deputy leaders Sylvia Jones and Steve Clark.

"Mr. Brown is entitled to a legal defence and due process, but he cannot lead us into an election as a result of these allegations."

Brown won the PC leadership race in 2015. He had served as a Conservative MP on Stephen Harper's backbenches for nine years, and was seen by many as a long-shot candidate. But he built a strong organization and signed up thousands of new members to the party from communities in the Greater Toronto Area that had shown little support for the PCs.

The PCs then enjoyed a wide lead over Wynne's Liberals in nearly all opinion polls throughout 2016 and 2017, while his party out-fundraised the Liberals and the Ontario NDP combined.

Brown launched his campaign platform in November, trying to position the PCs as a centrist party, ready to end 14 years of Liberal reign in Ontario but pledging not to reverse most of the Wynne government's key programs.

With Brown's face splashed on the cover of the platform, and the election campaign due to begin in early May, the party will be scrambling to get back on track.

It is unclear who will replace Brown and how the new leader will be chosen. The statement issued by the deputy leaders said "caucus will immediately consult with party officials and members on best way to move forward."

The party constitution says when a leader resigns, the caucus must select an interim leader to serve until a leadership convention can be held. Diverting resources toward a snap leadership convention is likely to be the last thing the PCs want to do with an election campaign around the corner.

Some of the names being floated already as potential replacements for Brown include MPPs Lisa MacLeod and Vic Fedeli, who both sought the leadership in 2015, as well as the two deputy leaders, Clark and Jones.


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