Patrick Brown didn’t pull any punches in responding to news of his ejection from the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race.
News broke late Tuesday, July 5 that the party’s Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) had disqualified Brown from the leadership race over accusations that his campaign violated campaign finance rules.
“In recent weeks, our Party became aware of serious allegations of wrongdoing by the Patrick Brown campaign that appear to violate the financial provisions of the Canada Elections Act,” read a statement from the chair of the Leadership Election Organizing Committee, Ian Brodie. “The information provided to date by the Patrick Brown campaign did not satisfy concerns about their compliance with our Rules and Procedures and/or the Canada Elections Act.
“Throughout the investigation into these allegations, the Chief Returning Officer and I have done our best to be fair to the Patrick Brown leadership campaign and provide them with the time they need to substantively refute these allegations,” added the statement.
Brown is denying all allegations against him.
“The allegations they gave us was that there was an anonymous allegation where someone said they were being paid by a corporation to work on my campaign. We have no information. They didn’t tell us who it was, what the corporation was,” Brown said in an interview.
“Not knowing who it was, we have 1,800 volunteers on our campaign, and they won’t tell us what this allegation is. It was a made-up excuse to disqualify my campaign to ensure Pierre Poilievre wins and that’s just wrong. It’s an egregious abuse of our democracy,” he added.
Brown says his campaign was co-operating with the investigation and alleges the decision by the LEOC to disqualify him was orchestrated and spearheaded by committee members loyal to Poilievre.
“Clearly there was a split on LEOC in terms of those who didn’t accept this. It was a divided vote and it’s wrong. If Pierre Poilievre was confident in his campaign, he wouldn’t have tried to resort to trying to disqualify his opponents. It was very clear last night that the Pierre Poilievre supporters on LEOC were organized for this, and it begs the question why?” Brown said.
“Pierre knew that if I was in the race he was likely going to lose. They’ve resorted to this unfortunate tactic, and it really disenfranchises a large number of Canadians that had hoped this was an opportunity to build a modern and inclusive Conservative Party.”
However, Brodie claims the decision was based entirely on the allegations against Brown.
“We regret having to take these steps, but we have an obligation to ensure that both our Party’s Rules and federal law are respected by all candidates and campaign teams,” Brodie said.
Brown said he is consulting his campaign legal team about a possible legal challenge of his disqualification, which he told the Guardian he believes is entirely politically and ideologically motivated.
“Obviously, the party establishment was nervous. We signed up 150,000-plus new members. To put that in context, Erin O’Toole signed up 20,000 when he won (and) Andrew Scheer signed up 9,000 when he won,” said Brown, adding he believes his embracing of the LGBTQ community, advocacy against Islamophobia and denouncing of the trucker convoys ran counter to beliefs held by others in the party.
“We were challenging the orthodoxy of the Conservative Party,” he said. “As I said across the country, it doesn’t matter who you love, where you were born, the colour of your skin, what God you worship, I was going to build a modern and inclusive party.
“I don’t want to see the Conservative Party of Canada become some replica of the Republican Party in the U.S. I don’t want to see the Conservative party try to imitate Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, I wanted to build a distinctly Canadian version of Canadian conservatism that was inclusive (and) fought for everyone,” Brown added.