Trudeau reacts to allegations against Patrick Brown
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined Canadian political figures reacting to allegations of sexual misconduct against former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown, saying that his thoughts are with the women who came forward.
“It’s extremely important that we make absolutely clear that sexual harassment and sexual assault is unacceptable. We take these allegations extremely seriously whenever they come up,” Trudeau told reporters in Davos, where he is attending the World Economic Forum.
“Obviously my thoughts turn immediately to the women who came forward knowing how difficult it is, it can be, to salute them for their courage and their leadership and certainly hope that their example will resonate and that the support of their friends, their families, and the community at large remains with them,” Trudeau said.
At a Queen’s Park news conference late Wednesday evening, Brown denied “troubling allegations” about his “conduct and character.” Early Thursday morning, Brown resigned as leader after consulting with friends, family and caucus members.
CTV News reported detailed accounts from two women, both of whom describe inappropriate sexual encounters that occurred during Brown’s tenure as an elected official. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Now, the Ontario PC Party says the caucus will consult party officials and members on the “best way to move forward.”
According to the Ontario PC constitution, if a leader dies, retires, or resigns, the caucus can elect an interim leader pending a leadership election. If the caucus is unable to select an interim leader, a joint meeting of the caucus and the executive will make the selection.
Here are some of the reactions:
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Campaign Manager Andrew Boddington, Chief of Staff Alykhan Velshi, and Deputy Campaign Manager Dan Robertson
“Earlier today, all three of us became aware of allegations about Patrick Brown. After speaking with him, our advice was that he should resign as PC Party leader. He did not accept that advice,” they said in a statement.
“Since our view is that this advice was in the best interest of the PC Part, we have therefore resigned our positions…”
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said she was “shocked” after learning about the allegations through the media, and called for everyone to come together to “shine a light” on inappropriate behaviour.
“We’re all in this together,” she told reporters on Thursday, in a statement that did not use Brown’s name at any point. She declined to comment on Brown specifically.
“I am not going to get into the legal aspects of any of the situations that we’ve heard about over the last number of months,” she said, when asked if she believes Brown’s two accusers. “It was a difficult and brave thing to come forward,” she added. “They need to be supported.”
Wynne said the situation is not about politics, and that she can’t say whether it will lead her to call an election earlier than June.
“The political fallout will be what the political fallout will be,” she said.
“It is always so brave to come forward. While we don’t have a comment on what has transpired tonight, my government and I have been clear on the issue of sexual harassment and assault. In fact, we created a policy and ran a pub ed (public education) campaign about it. That ad was called, “It’s never ok,” Wynne said in a written statement.
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".— Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne) January 25, 2018
Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer
“The allegations against the Leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives are extremely serious and should be investigated fully,” Sheer said in a statement. “Sexual misconduct and sexual harassment have no place in Canadian society.”
“I understand how difficult it can be for women to come forward under these circumstances.”
Conservative MP and deputy Conservative leader Lisa Raitt
“I think Mr. Brown did the right thing last night resigning,” Raitt told reporters on Thursday.
“I just want to be very clear that if there’s anybody in our party or anybody on the Hill or anybody in constituency offices who are experiencing this issue right now, I want them to know they can come to me and they have an open door,” she said.
Ahead of the Ontario provincial election, Raitt said it’s “very important” that voters see a Conservative Party that can be trusted to lead.
When a reporter commented that Raitt seemed “very moved” by the allegations against Brown, the MP responded: “I am.
“How could you not listen to the testimony that those two women gave last night and not maybe flash back to something that may have happened to you in the past?” Raitt said.
Sylvia Jones and Steve Clark, PC Deputy Leaders
“Mr. Brown is entitled to a legal defense and due process, but he cannot lead us into an election as a result of these allegations,” the deputy leaders said in a joint statement. "The Ontario PC Party unequivocally upholds the principle that a safe and respectful society is what we expect and deserve. We need to move forward to eradicate sexual violence and harassment across the province."
“Our caucus will immediately consult with party officials and members on best way to move forward to defeat the Wynne Liberals in the 2018."
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath voiced her support for the women who came forward, during a media availability at Queen’s Park on Thursday morning.
“It’s important for us to listen to these women and support them,” Horwath told reporters. She added that she was “pretty disgusted” by the allegations against Brown, saying: “If he was in my caucus, he would not be sitting as an MPP any longer.”
Horwath also took aim at the justice system when asked about condemning Brown in the court of public opinion, despite the allegations not being tested in court.
“I really have two words about the justice system: Jian Ghomeshi,” she said, citing the former CBC host who was acquitted of four sexual assault-related charges in 2016.
“Let’s face it, the justice system is failing women,” Horwath said. “It is. And that’s the reality – that’s why lots of women don’t come forward, especially when it relates to workplace issues, so let’s not pretend that we have a justice system that’s actually protecting women and making sure that women see justice.”
Horwath also addressed the situation earlier in a written statement.
“My thoughts are with the brave young women who have spoken out to describe horrible, degrading and unsafe experiences they say happened at the hands of Patrick Brown,” she said.
“He deserves his day in court, but no person can lead a political party in this province with allegations like these hanging over his head.”
Lisa MacLeod, MPP for Nepean—Carleton
“I do not and will not tolerate abuse or harassment, and I will do everything in my power to fight against it. My heart goes out to the women who have been impacted by this behavior. It takes courage to come forward and make these claims. These women deserve our support,” she said in a statement.
My statement: pic.twitter.com/BEaBAuKPXl— Lisa MacLeod (@MacLeodLisa) January 25, 2018
Victor Fedeli, MPP for Nipissing
“Mr. Brown is entitled to a legal defense and due process, but he cannot lead us into an election as a result of these allegations. The Ontario PC Caucus unequivocally upholds the principle that a safe and respectful society is what we expect and deserve. We need to move forward to eradicate sexual violence and harassment across the province.”
1/4 This evening, we learned of disturbing allegations leveled against Patrick Brown. The Ontario PC Caucus unanimously agrees that Mr. Brown cannot continue serving as the Leader.— Victor Fedeli (@VictorFedeli) January 25, 2018
Caroline Mulroney, PC candidate for York-Simcoe
“This is a sad say. Women are facing yet another story of harassment,” Mulroney said in a statement. “We have heard too many of them. But women across Ontario will continue fighting together. We are working to build a world where no woman has to say “me too” ever again.”
Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh
“Our thoughts are with the brave women who have had the courage to speak out about their experiences. We believe survivors & offer all survivors our unwavering support. The allegations against Patrick Brown are serious and deeply disturbing.”
Our thoughts are with the brave women who have had the courage to speak out about their experiences. We believe survivors & offer all survivors our unwavering support. The allegations against Patrick Brown are serious and deeply disturbing, and he should resign immediately.— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) January 25, 2018
Toronto Mayor John Tory
"Obviously, the reports of sexual assault and harassment brought forward by two women yesterday are saddening and disturbing," the statement read. "One thing which is changing, as well it should be, is that victims of assault and harassment are increasingly coming forward and making their voices heard, knowing that diligent investigation and accountability will follow."
"Political leaders have a responsibility to set a high standard, both through their words and their actions, and we must all state loudly that this type of behaviour is never okay."
Amanda Simard, PC candidate for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell
“The allegations of sexual misconduct put [forward] by two courageous women against Patrick Brown yesterday are very serious. Such behaviour is completely unacceptable has no place in our society. I believe that Mr. Brown made the right decision in resigning as Leader.”
Goldie Ghamari, PC candidate for Carleton
“I know how hard it must be for these women to bring forth these allegations. I also [know] how hard it must be for the accused to defend themselves. As a woman and a lawyer, I have full faith in our justice system and our police force. I believe that these very serious allegations must be fully investigated.”
Sexual misconduct and harassment have no place in our society. My parents raised me to respect everyone and to follow the law. I know how hard it must be for these women to bring forth these allegations. I also how how hard it must be for the accused to defend themselves. 1/2— Goldie Ghamari (@gghamari) January 25, 2018
Michael Smolders, Alliance candidate for Mississauga-Streetsville
“Whether these allegations are true, time will tell. If they are true, our hearts go out to those victims,” Smolders said in a recorded statement on YouTube. “Patrick Brown and the whole PC party have fractured Conservatives. The Ontario Alliance is bringing everybody back together again under one home.”
Susan Truppe, PC candidate for London North Centre
“The allegations made against Patrick Brown are both serious and troubling and do not reflect my values or those of the constituents of London North Centre,” Truppe said in a statement. “I’d like to thank the women for their bravery in coming forward.”