Ex-Ontario conservative leader joins race amid allegations
TORONTO (AP) — The former leader of Ontario’s conservative opposition party announced Friday he is running for his party’s leadership just three weeks after resigning amid sexual misconduct allegations.
The development comes just a few months before an election.
Patrick Brown said he filed his leadership papers to replace himself as leader of the party.
“This isn’t about me,” Brown said. “I think my name has been cleared and now it’s about getting Ontario back on track.”
Brown didn’t elaborate on how he cleared his name just before jumping into a taxi.
Brown stepped down after CTV News reported a woman, now 29, said she was still in high school when Brown allegedly asked her to perform oral sex. A different woman said she was a university student working in Brown’s office when he tried to have sex with her at his home in 2013. CTV did not identify the women.
Brown, 39, denied the allegations and has been waging a campaign to clear his name. The first woman has since said she was not in high school and 19 years old when the alleged incident happened a decade ago.
Earlier Friday, Brown was kicked out of the party’s caucus.
The scandal is considered another #MeToo moment. The movement has been credited with unveiling widespread sexual abuse and misconduct across the globe.
Brown he wouldn’t wish his experience on his worst enemy. “It has been absolutely horrific. It’s like getting hit by a truck,” Brown said.
Almost all of Brown’s senior leadership team quit after Brown initially declined to step down last month in the early moments after the CTV report aired. But he later reversed course that night following pressure from the party.
Many political analysts had expected Brown to become the next premier of Ontario after 14 years of rule by the Liberal Party. The election is less than 100 days way.
Two of the high profile candidates for the party’s leadership called Brown’s decision to enter the race a distraction.
“Patrick Brown made the right decision to step down. A leadership election is not the place for him to clear his name,” Caroline Mulroney, a candidate and the daughter of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, said on Twitter.
Doug Ford, a candidate and brother of late, ex-Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, said the party should be focused on defeating the ruling Liberals.