Patrick Brown out of Ontario PC leadership race
Published Monday, February 26, 2018 1:23PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 26, 2018 10:00PM EST
Ten days after announcing his intention to run for his old job, former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown has withdrawn from a leadership race that was sparked by his late January resignation.
According to a statement, Brown says there are three reasons why he decided to withdraw: to “focus on holding CTV accountable,” “focus on policy,” and to protect his family and friends.
The statement was sent to the Ontario PC Party Executive Committee and the PC Ontario Leadership Election Organizing Committee.
Since his resignation in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations levelled against him by two women, as reported by CTV News on Jan. 24, Brown, 39, has been facing other allegations, including financial mismanagement and questions over inflated party membership numbers.
And on Monday, the Toronto Star published a report that Brown told Ontario PC officials to “get me the result I want” in a candidate nomination contest now under police investigation.
Brown, who now sits as an independent MP representing Simcoe North, has vigorously denied these allegations.
However, in his statement Monday, he said that since joining the race it has become clear that he could not focus on winning while working to clear his name, calling his leadership campaign a distraction for both himself and his party’s efforts to defeat Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Speaking to CTV News, conservative strategist Jenni Byrne said Brown had little choice but to drop out.
“He's absolutely afforded the ability to clear his name, the issue is that will never happen before June 7 and each of the leadership candidates are going to have to say whether they're going to sign his nomination papers as a candidate in Barrie," she said.
Brown alleged Monday that his political foes were collaborating with the media “through an endless supply of rumours and innuendo” and said his friends have been “subjected to attacks” while family members are suffering “anxiety and panic attacks requiring medical intervention.”
He did not mention the online intimidation campaign and threats against the two young women who told their stories to CTV News.
Brown’s withdrawal also comes on the day the provincial integrity commissioner confirmed he was investigating allegations about Brown, brought by PC MPP Randy Hillier, and days before a leadership debate in Ottawa.
There had been conflicting reports circulating earlier Monday about Brown’s continued leadership intentions, with spokesperson Alise Mills first calling reports that he was readying to leave the race “speculation” and then saying that Brown and his family have been “forced to endure attacks on their character, malicious gossip and threats.”
To register as a candidate, Brown had to pay the Ontario PC party $100,000 -- money that will not be refunded.
Four candidates are now in the leadership race: Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney and Tanya Granic Allen.
The winner of the membership vote is set to be announced on March 10.
Brown formally served a notice of libel against CTV News on Feb. 26, alleging its Jan. 24 report was "false, malicious, irresponsible and defamatory."
CTV News stands by its reporting and will actively defend its journalism in court.
With a report from CTV’s Glen McGregor in Ottawa
Full statement from CTV News:
CTV News has received a notice of libel. CTV News stands by its reporting and will actively defend its journalism in court.