I met Patrick Brown first time in 2014 during Markham municipal election. We were sitting next to each other and gave our speeches to support Regional Councillor Jim Jones' re-election campaign. Eventually, I was a part of a handful of people with Chinese heritage who came forward to support Patrick in his quest for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership in Ontario.
At that time, Patrick Brown came across as a refreshing candidate with no ties to Ontario PC administration under Tim Hudak (unlike his opponent Christine Elliott). He was ready to listen and accessible to all who wanted to approach him. Patrick Brown changed after he became the leader of Ontario PC party. It is now evident that he was influenced and manipulated by his very closed circle of “friends” and advisors.
Patrick Brown came from the Federal political scene with a very impressive resume going back to his younger years. He served as the president of the Progressive Conservative Youth Federation (PCYF) and was elected to the Barrie City Council in 2000 at age of 22. He was elected as a Federal Member of Parliament in 2006, and was re-elected again in 2008 and again in 2011. Curiously, he was not given any posts by Stephen Harper’s government in those years as a MP.
During the Scarborough-Rouge River by-election in August, 2016, Ontario PC Party circulated 13,000 letters in English and Chinese signed by Brown, vowing to axe the sex-ed syllabus if they win the next provincial election. That was a change in position for him, sparking charges of a flip-flop from inside and outside the Conservative party.
Patrick Brown also shook the foundation of the Conservative ideology when he introduced the Carbon Tax. This was seen as an attempt to capture young environmentalists to the conservative camp and retain those already there. This tax, however, does not go well with social conservatives within the party.
Then came the nominations in 2017 when irregularities were identified over 10 ridings. Some nominees were alleged to have received preferential treatments during the contests from party’s administrative staff members connected to Patrick Brown's office. A number of these cases resulted in law-suits as well as resignations from unhappy riding executives.
The timing and manners of the recent sexual misconduct allegations suggest that it was an implosion generated by Party plotters to replace Patrick before the upcoming provincial elections in June, 2018. Many thought that it was the Liberals who pulled it off. Wrong! They would have waited for a month before the election date to spring this sorted of thing as a scandal. The orchestration of the simultaneous resignations of 5 important senior members within Patrick's Office further confirmed this as an internal coup from within the party.
Patrick was judged in the court of public opinion. No official complaints of sexual misconduct or harassment were filed with the police to this date. Even the traditional Liberal media wrote many articles in support of him as a victim of the “MeToo” phenomenon, suggesting that no male politicians can be immunized against unsubstantiated allegations from females who may come forward decades later after remembering “inappropriate encounters”.
Vic Fedeli, the interim PC leader chosen by the caucus of seating MPP's the day after Patrick's resignation, started to clean house within Patrick's Office. The Executives decided that a party leader is to be chosen by the members before March 24, 2018. The other option was to select the leader after the election in June but that was voted down by a majority of the Party Executives. Vic Fedeli is not running for the leadership contest. The front runners are Christine Elliot, Doug Ford, and Caroline Mulroney – each carrying heavy political baggage's. There will also be reviews on the questionable nominees and candidates from the “tempered with” ridings very shortly.
The choosing of a new party leader can be an opportunity to restore the faith of its supporters. Improper execution of this manoeuvre can open up new wounds within the party and lead to yet another unsuccessful campaign to dislodge the control of a very unpopular Liberal government. For the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, this is their last best chance for redemption.
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