Allegations from former staffer why one PC MPP stood up, she says
OTTAWA -- As the Ontario PC party deals with questions of who knew what and when about allegations against Patrick Brown, an Ottawa-area MPP says she raised concerns “two or three times” prior to the serious accusations of sexual misconduct brought forward by two women this week.
One of the stories that PC MPP Lisa MacLeod knew about, was that of the woman who had worked in Brown’s constituency office in 2013 while she was a university student.
She was one of two women who came forward to CTV News alleging sexual misconduct against Brown -- allegations he has emphatically denied.
The woman shared something about her experience with Brown to MacLeod after a social event in Ottawa last year.
MacLeod told CTV News Friday night: "She is why I stood up."
Questions remain about just how far that information went within the party, because MacLeod said she did not tell anyone in senior management -- some of whom stepped aside when the allegations came to light -- or members of caucus about what she had been hearing.
Instead, MacLeod said that she alerted Dimitri Soudas, Tory insider and self-described PC campaign volunteer, to some unspecific rumours of "inappropriate touching, or multiple girlfriends.
It is unclear if what MacLeod presented to Soudas included the information from the woman that spoke to CTV News.
MacLeod says she was told the rumours of "issues about women" were unfounded. "There were lots of things that were percolating that a lot of people heard," the Nepean-Carleton MPP told reporters on her way into the PC caucus meeting at Queen’s Park on Friday morning.
"Certainly when I heard issues about women I would bring those forward," she said, adding that she raised the matter with campaign members "before Christmas."
MacLeod said she had gone to Soudas instead, because he was a friend and she did not trust members of Brown’s staff.
Soudas -- who is best known for his time on Parliament Hill as a top communication aide to Prime Minster Stephen Harper -- confirmed MacLeod’s account in a series of tweets, saying: "Ms. McLeod [sic.] informed me of rumours and allegations in regards to her then leader, Mr. Brown. She did not have specific details. Just rumours. I strongly urged her to raise these issues directly with Mr. Brown as I was a volunteer and she was a caucus member. I also urged her to raise this issue with caucus. She clearly didn’t."
He also said that MacLeod told him that the rumours came from former NHL player Eric Lindros.
In a further tweet, MacLeod said Lindros never spoke to her about specific allegations against Brown.
“Rather he asked me in November, ‘what is it that they have on Patrick Brown’? [sic.] after hearing speculation. I shared that.”
CTV News has reached out to Lindros for comment.
MacLeod said that she was not surprised when the women came forward -- instead, she said she was "quite relieved.”
"I think that the blemish that we had is gone," MacLeod said.
Brown resigned as leader of the party and has denied the allegations as false, and has vowed to remain the MPP for Simcoe North. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
One of Brown's sisters has come to to his defence, writing in a Facebook post:
"What happened to my brother was disgusting... He is the victim.... These completely false allegations were 100 % politically motivated, and nothing more than a political hit."
On Friday the party took the first steps towards moving past the political turmoil caused by Brown’s ouster, selecting Vic Fedeli as interim leader.
One of his first moves was to ask Brown to take a leave of absence from the caucus as he deals with the allegations he is facing.
Fedeli said he has plans to work with his human resources department to strengthen workplace violence and harassment policies.
"No one should ever feel afraid to speak up," Fedeli said. He said he would not sign Brown's nomination papers if the allegations stand at the time of the election.
"We take all accusations seriously and in this particular case, I believe the women,” Fedeli said.