March 4, 2016 7:51 am

Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown to lead annual convention in Ottawa for first time

Ontario Progressive Conservative party leader Patrick Brown speaks after winning the PC party leadership in Toronto on Saturday, May 9, 2015.

Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press
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TORONTO – More than 1600 Ontario Progressive Conservatives will meet in Ottawa this weekend for their first annual convention under new leader Patrick Brown.

The Tories will start work on their 2018 campaign platform this weekend, which Brown promises will be developed by the party’s grassroots instead of being dictated by a small group at Queen’s Park as it has in the past.

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He wants to avoid a repeat of the Tories’ 2014 campaign pledge to cut 100 thousand public service jobs, and has been reaching out to police, teachers, nurses and other unions.

Brown insists he’s not playing it safe by refusing to criticize the unions, and says he views public sector workers as partners, not as adversaries.

An expected showdown for the position of party president evaporated when the two candidates, former MP Rick Dykstra and party veteran Jag Badwall, decided Dykstra would be president and Badwall will be first vice-president.

But Brown insists it wasn’t the result of some backroom deal of the type he used to condemn.

He says registration for the Ottawa convention is “through the roof” and promises it will have more youth delegates and more visible minorities than at any previous gathering and show how much the face of the Tory party has changed.

Brown, a former federal Conservative backbencher, defeated former MPP Christine Elliott for the PC leadership last May.

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