Roy Green: Is Patrick Brown’s departure a benefit for the Ontario PC party’s fortunes?
Patrick Brown will have his day in court should he decide to challenge his accusers.
Two women allege Brown was sexually harassing and inappropriate towards them — one while she was still in high school. Brown denies any such behaviour and no criminal charges have been brought forward.
Nevertheless, quick resignations of key election campaign staff ended Brown’s tenure as Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader abruptly and unavoidably.
Conventional thinking has led to some hand-wringing by party supporters who view the departure of a leader and the rapidly approaching June 7 election as a race-ending collision just as the checkered flag is becoming visible.
I don’t think so.
Patrick Brown has proven to be a largely unappealing standard bearer for conservatives in Canada’s most populous province.
Chugging toward the June 7 finish line, Brown was dragging along policies more suitable for beleaguered Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne. His was a patch kit, Hail Mary pass tossed to voters in a province that is drowning in long-term red ink.
Anger at Brown simmered over the nomination process for riding candidates. The ire spilled into federal ranks as longtime stalwart and Senate Conservative leader Marjorie LeBreton described what took place during the PC nomination vote in Ottawa West Nepean as “blatantly undemocratic” in a column for the Ottawa Citizen.
Like Wynne, Brown committed Ontario to a carbon tax, directly countering the declaration by Andrew Scheer, Conservative Party of Canada leader. Should Scheer be elected to replace Justin Trudeau as prime minister next year, the national carbon tax demanded of provinces by Trudeau will be rescinded.
I interviewed Brown on several occasions and told him I wasn’t impressed. Last weekend we tried for a quick interview as a retort to Premier Wynne’s minimum wage comments of the day. Brown’s communications staff suggested his schedule was too packed, but perhaps we might try for this weekend instead.
My reply, “Let’s see if something newsworthy develops.”
With Brown’s departure, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party has been provided with an opportunity to dig itself out of a hole. Under Brown’s leadership, without any sexual assault or other impropriety complaint, the party might have stumbled across the June 7 finish line in third place.
My tea leaves suggest the PCs must persuade Christine Elliott, former MPP who finished second to Brown for party leadership, to agree to assume the top job.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Corus radio network