Tory Outcast Patrick Brown Has Joined the Ontario PC Party’s Leadership Race
A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted February 18th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
Just when it looked like Ontario’s Progressive Party was beginning to regroup and gain ground on filling its leadership role just four months away from a June 7th provincial election, guess who pops out of the jack-in-the-box?
Why it’s Patrick Brown, who just resigned from the party’s leadership this January (although, now he is claiming he never told party executives he was stepping down) over allegations of sexual misconduct.
This past Friday, February 16th – two hours before the deadline closed for entering one’s name as a leadership candidate and only a few hours after he had been notified by party executives that he had been ejected from the PC Caucus, “effective immediately – Patrick Brown tossed his hat into the ring with four other leadership candidates.
Those leadership candidates for the party are former Tory MPP Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney (daughter of former Tory prime minister Brian Mulroney, who would be running for elected office for the first time), Toronto city councillor Doug Ford and citizen activist Tanya Granic Allen, who is running in opposition to the current Liberal government’s recently introduced sex education curriculum in public schools.
And now, just as those candidates are getting out around the province (Mulroney and Ford were in Niagara for meet-and-greet sessions just this past second week of February) doing a relatively respectable job of getting their messages out, back comes Patrick Brown, like a political version of an old Saturday Night Live skit featuring John Belushi as the house guest from hell, called ‘The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave.’
Not that I think there is much of a chance that anything between now and the June 7th vote will raise Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s personal approval ratings out of the tank, where they have settled like a sludge for the last couple of years. But she and her Liberal handlers must have at least popped a couple of corks this February 16th over the late-day news of Brown’s re-emergence.
Indeed, if I didn’t know better, I would almost wonder if people on the Liberal side didn’t encourage Brown to get in the Tory race so as to serve, wittingly or unwittingly, as a weapon of mass distraction.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath may be taking a little solace from the news too, although she and her party – for reasons I don’t understand given Horwath’s political smarts and experience, and a fairly detailed, progressive platform to offer Ontarians this time – does not appear to be taken anywhere near as seriously as the Liberals and Tories as a party that is ready and able to form a good and effective government.
The lack of serious attention Horwath and her NDP have been getting to date is, at least for this reporter and veteran political junkie, somewhat of a head scratcher.
As for the Ontario PCs, I might take some solace from this character’s refusal to just leave too. I am not and never have been a member of any political party (to paraphrase the late great comic icon Groucho Marx, ‘I would never want to belong to any political party that would have someone like me as a member). I tend to vote for whoever I come to the conclusion is a dedicated, honourable and honest person who would do the best person to represent my community and riding.
Having said that, there is no way I would want to see the Tories form another government in Ontario for at least a few reasons –
- First, I well remember the way that party, under the leadership of then premier Mike Harris, gutted social service and world class environmental rules and programs going back to the years of the former Tory government of Bill Davis in the 1970s and 80. Just as egregious was all of the defunding and chaos the Harris Tories (many of whom are still around and representing or working for the party, or linked to it in some way) rained down on our public education system while my daughter and her friends were attending elementary and secondary school.
- Second, we already have enough problems in this Niagara region with all of the Tories we have now in municipal government, even with Liberals in power at the provincial level who should be doing more than they are to police what is going on at the regional level. Imagine how much more emboldened the characters here would feel to do whatever they want if the Tories were to win power at Queen’s Park too!
- And third, with Trump across the border, slashing taxes for the upper two or three per cent, and gutting everything down to food stamp programs for people at the lower end, I would rather take my chances with the Liberals or NDP, and hope they at least serve as a bit of a buffer against that, than have the Tories come in and say we have to get out the meat axe and engage in the same race to the bottom in order for our businesses to compete. Our health care and environmental protection programs have already been compromised enough over the past two decades without voting in a party that would hitch what is left of our province’s health and social safety nets to the back of the Trump train.
But if I were a member of the Ontario PC Party, I would be livid over this potentially damaging, self-serving move Brown has pulled.
It is insulting enough that he has the nerve to suggest he never agreed to resign from the party’s leadership this past January when several others in the party, during a conference call with him, heard him do it. (By the way, that sounds a little familiar doesn’t it? We now have a Niagara regional councillor here in the name of Bob Gale who is saying he didn’t call on others to apologize over matters to do with regional police business, when many people heard him doing just that at an open meeting of council – which anyone can go back and watch on video – this past February 8th.
He was also quoted saying the following to reporters in Toronto this February 16th – “I think my name has been cleared and now it’s about getting Ontario back on track.”
Like most people in this province, I am not privy to any of the details of the sexual misconduct allegations, but senior members of his own party obviously felt they might create enough of a dark cloud that it would be in the best interests of the PCs and any chance they may have to win in June if he was out.
But Brown appears to be one of all too many politicians these days that places his own interests above those of his party and the larger community which, in this case, is the Province of Ontario,
It is as if he sees the leadership of the Ontario PC Party as a personal entitlement that was wrongly yanked away from his and regardless of the consequences (in this case, the distraction he becomes to party business because it is a fat chance he’ll win), he is going to grab it back.
The sexual misconduct allegations aside, Brown’s conduct this February 16 should say enough about his character to disqualify him as someone anyone would want serving as the premier of this province.
Here is a brief statement on this matter, released by the Ontario PC Party immediately after Brown entered his name as a candidate for the party’s leadership –
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 16, 2018
Statement from Ontario PC Party President Jag Badwal:
“Mr. Patrick Brown has submitted his paperwork to run for the leadership of the Ontario PC Party.
“Earlier today I was informed by our Interim Leader Vic Fedeli that he has removed Mr. Brown as an Ontario PC Caucus member.”
“Mr. Brown’s application will follow the same due process in the same manner as the other four declared candidates.”
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