Patrick Brown gets approval for Ontario PC leadership run
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 21, 2018 8:11AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 21, 2018 7:05PM EST
TORONTO -- Patrick Brown's quest to regain the leadership of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives cleared a key hurdle Wednesday when the 39-year-old politician, who resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations, received the party's stamp of approval for a run in the spring election.
A party nomination committee tasked with vetting all Tory leadership candidates announced that Brown and three others vying for his former job -- Christine Elliott, Doug Ford and Tanya Granic Allen -- had been approved to contest the leadership race. Caroline Mulroney, another leadership hopeful, had already been approved by the committee.
Progressive Conservative members will start voting for the new leader on March 2, with the winner to be announced March 10.
Since joining the leadership contest on Friday, Brown has been dogged by allegations of mismanagement and corruption, which have led one Tory legislator to file a complaint with Ontario's integrity commissioner.
He's also been accused of exaggerating membership numbers after an internal audit found the party has about 67,000 fewer members than the 200,000 Brown has previously taken credit for.
Brown has denied all the allegations against him and vowed last week to continue to fight.
His spokeswoman, Alise Mills, said Brown's campaign team was happy about the committee's decision, but added that he would not be immediately available for comment.
In a Facebook post Tuesday, Brown remained defiant despite the challenges he was facing.
"We have an obligation to the people of Ontario to get our province back on course," he wrote. "I want to finish the job that we started."
Brown abruptly resigned Jan. 25 after CTV News reported allegations of sexual misconduct against the former party leader. He has vehemently denied the allegations, which The Canadian Press has not independently verified.
Brown's departure plunged the Progressive Conservatives, who had been leading in the polls, into turmoil, triggering the kind of infighting rarely seen in Ontario politics.