News

Brown bombshell rattles area PCs

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

Patrick Brown resigned as leader of the Ontario PC party. (The Canadian Press)

Patrick Brown resigned as leader of the Ontario PC party. (The Canadian Press)

Area Progressive Conservatives are trying to make sense of the sudden resignation of Patrick Brown as the Ontario party's leader.

After refusing to resign hours before, Brown stepped down amid sexual misconduct allegations early Thursday morning.

Haldimand-Norfolk veteran MPP Toby Barrett said he was surprised by Brown's resignation.

"I'm disappointed he stepped down, but I respect that he did it for the good of the party," said Barrett, who has represented the riding for the Conservatives since 1995.

He said that there is a sense of "disbelief and shock" among party faithful just months ahead of a provincial election set for June 7.

"Like everyone, I was shocked to hear of the allegations," said Barrett, who was a strong supporter of Brown when he sought the leadership in 2016.

"Anything like this has to be taken seriously, but we have to get to the bottom of it. You have to find out who is telling the truth."

Willem Bouma, the PC candidate in Brantford-Brant, said he was surprised to hear of Brown's resignation.

"Like everyone, I was very shocked to learn of the serious allegations," Bouma said.

"Harassment has no place in our society -- period. Allegations of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously and these voices deserve to be heard. It was appropriate that Mr. Brown resigned as our PC leader."

But Bouma, a Brant County councillor who won the PC nomination last April, said that the party remains confident heading into the election.

"To me, it's most important that we listen to people from Brantford-Brant and find out what their needs are and what they're looking for in an MPP," he said.

"I'm looking forward to that."

Bouma said the chances of the PCs winning the election remain strong. The party is flush with 200,000 members and touts a good policy platform, he said.

"We have a fantastic team in Brantford-Brant. We owe it to all our volunteers to run a good campaign."

Barrett called the timing of the allegations against Brown "interesting.

"These accusations allegedly happened 10 years ago," he said.

"I understand their patience to wait 10 years and then make their allegations just before an election."

He said that Brown did a good job as party leader, boosting membership and creating a strong policy platform.

"And we have 90 candidates nominated. So, he has left the party in a very good position."

MMarion@postmedia.com

@expMarion

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