Ousted Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown was in Ottawa on Saturday to sign copies of his tell-all political memoir.
It was the third appearance Brown has made in support of the book, which was released in November and received wide attention for its claims that Brown was unceremoniously forced to resign amidst unproven allegations of sexual misconduct.
On Saturday morning, Brown had two back-to-back events in a meeting room of a Holiday Inn in Gloucester. His first audience consisted of about 25 people.
Some were Brown loyalists, people he greeted by name. Some said they had an interest in politics and were curious about what he had to say. Some were former Conservative insiders who said they no longer supported the party because it no longer appealed to “progressive” voters.
Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown signs a copy of his book in Ottawa on Saturday,JOANNE LAUCIUS / POSTMEDIA
A year ago, Brown was widely touted as a favourite to become Ontario premier as the province headed towards an election on a wave of dissatisfaction with Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government.
However, last January, less than five months before the election, Brown resigned in the midst of sexual misconduct allegations, which he denied. He has since filed a defamation lawsuit against CTV News, which first reported the allegations.
Brown soon jumped back into the political fray. He planned to run for regional chair of Peel, but Premier Doug Ford cancelled that election. Brown registered for the mayoral race in Brampton on July 27. In October, in the most closely-watched race of this fall’s municipal elections, he defeated incumbent Linda Jeffrey.
Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, has sold more than 7,000 copies so far, according to publisher Dean Baxendale.
In the book, Brown made a number of explosive claims, including that Ottawa-area MPPs Randy Hillier and Lisa MacLeod were “ring leaders” behind his sudden forced exit as party leader.
Brown concedes that he made a few mistakes along the way. “The biggest lesson I learned is that you can only move a political party as fast as its members are willing to be moved,” he wrote. “Some of the moves I made were done much too quickly. I was trying to change the nature of the conservative movement overnight. You cannot take a party that includes people who hate unions, who are homophobic or who are climate-change deniers and move them to a new centrist party overnight.”
Brown spoke briefly to the audience before the book signing, saying that nominations should be run by Elections Canada or Elections Ontario.
“Winning a nomination is like winning a seat. We have candidates spending $100,000 on nominations,” he said. “Every political party has challenges with nominations.”
He was also critical of the the political staffers who resigned en masse shortly after the CTV story about him in January. “We hired mercenaries. We brought them in. People who quit that night were mercenaries. When you have mercenaries, their loyalty is to themselves, not the campaign.”
Some members of Saturday’s audience said the events that led to Brown’s resignation had left them disillusioned.
“I found it really distasteful what they did to him,” said Anita Walden, who described herself as a long-time Conservative volunteer. “How could people that you trusted turn their backs on you?”
Added Debbie Jodoin, a former Eastern Ontario Conservative organizer: “I stand with the man. He’s truthful, he’s honest.”
Jodoin says she’s now on the outside of the Progressive Conservative party, looking in, and has never been happier. “I’m a strong Conservative. But people don’t see it that way because I support Patrick Brown. It’s not my party anymore.”
A file photo shows Patrick Brown in late January, when a media report about sexual misconduct allegations against him led to Brown’s resignation as Ontario Progressive Conservative leader. His book deals at length with the situation, and he has since filed a lawsuit against CTV over the initial reporting about the allegations. AARON VINCENT ELKAIM / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Brown said he had no plans to return to federal or provincial politics.
“Right now my entire focus is on getting Brampton back on track,” he said “I’m loving my new job.”