Deciding next moves after former leader Patrick Brown’s bombshell resignation
TORONTO — Local Progressive Conservative MPP’s are cloistered with the rest of the Tory caucus this morning to quickly select an interim leader to replace Patrick Brown who abruptly resigned early yesterday amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
The bombshell announcement from the former Leader of Ontario’s Official Opposition has left PC’s scrambling to readjust for the upcoming provincial election, scheduled just over four months from now.
The Tory caucus is also expected to decide if the person emerging as interim leader today will carry them through the June 7 election — matching up against unpopular Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne — or if the party should try to elect a permanent leader before then.
“All that stuff is being decided today,” said Marilyn McMahon-Ayerst, executive assistant to Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell. “We should have an interim leader and know the plan later today,” she said in the absence of the local MPP, who was unavailable while meeting with his colleagues at Queen’s Park.
Two unidentified women alleged Wednesday in a CTV News story that Brown, 39, made inappropriate sexual advances when he was an MP. Brown has vehemently denied the accusations but opted to resign with a statement released in the wee hours on Thursday:
These allegations are false and have been difficult to hear.
However, defeating 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.
Over the past three years I have led a major transformation of our party taking it from 12,000 to 200,000 members, fundraised more money than any provincial party in Canadian history, and recruited some of the most qualified and diverse candidates in the history of our party. I have developed a pragmatic and winning campaign platform after a historically comprehensive policy process.
These important building blocks are essential for defeating Kathleen Wynne this year and her tired government that has repeatedly made reckless decisions and put insiders ahead of the people.
I’m confident the president of our party and caucus will convene an expedited process to elect my successor who I look forward to working with.
In a Tweet yesterday, Premier Wynne reacted to the Brown’s departure: “It’s a difficult and brave thing to do to come forward in the way these young women have done tonight. My government and I have been clear on the issue of sexual harassment and assault. In fact our policy and our ad were called ‘It’s Never Okay’.”
Speculation now abounds on the aspirations of past Tory leadership contenders — with Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod among those seen to be on the possible rise at this point.