Two provincial politicians resigned this week, both under allegations sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
Jamie Baillie, leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party was asked to resign, which he did, after a third-party investigation — which the party arranged after hearing the allegations of inappropriate behaviour. The party asked Baillie to resign and he did. Though he did not deny the allegations, he only stated that he was resigning for “personal reasons” and asked that his privacy be respected. Which… yeah, I’m just going to let that sink in and you can decide whether the man deserves any respect or not.
And the next to fall was Patrick Brown, the Ontario PC leader. CTV News broke the story this week, after speaking with two women, who came forward with separate allegations from the time Brown was a federal MP.
Brown did not go gracefully. He called a press conference on Wednesday evening, in which he categorically denied the allegations, and hinted at fighting them to the full extent of the law. He took no questions and was then chased by reporters as he jumped into a vehicle and left. Meanwhile his top campaign staff quit, and released a statement saying they had also urged Brown to resign. Brown simply could not lead the PC in the coming election with those allegations — fully proven or not — hanging over his head, the statement said. And then in the early hours of the morning, Brown in fact did resign. But he still continued to adamantly state the allegations were untrue. It was just more important to defeat Premier Kathleen Wynne, he said.
And that election is almost here.It’s scheduled for June, leaving the Ontario PC less than five months to find a new leader and get that person in front of voters.
They will be helped by the massive unpopularity of Wynne, who at time this past fall was polling almost single digits with voters. But they will be hindered as the investigation into Brown continues. While Brown denies the allegations, was anyone — on his staff or in the Ontario PC Party aware of them before CTV broke the news? If they were aware, or heard any troubling rumours, why didn’t they do what the Nova Scotia PC Party did and launch an independent investigation? There is so much more that is bound to come out and it’s going to cast a real pall on this election campaign.
Brown says he will stay on as MPP while “I definitively clear my name from these false allegations.”
Is that in the best interests of the party or anyone else?
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on him to step down as MPP immediately.
And it’s Horwath that may benefit the most from this terrible situation. Polling conducted in December, before there was any hint of the allegations against Brown, had the PCs at 36 per cent, likely to win the election. Wynne and the Liberals were at 28 per cent, but so was the NDP, who were rising in the polls. And 81 per cent of voters polled said they thought it was time for another party to take over.
At the time, the polling company said “there is ample opportunity for these results to shift as the election draws nearer and Ontarians become more familiar with the candidates, leaders and platforms. “While Wynne seems to be in a difficult spot, campaigns in Ontario have proven to be highly volatile.”
Well, voters certainly got to know Patrick Brown a lot better this week.
The question is, will he go down in history as the Judge Roy Moore of Ontario or be vindicated completely?