Lessons Learned from the Brown Catastrophe

(Unsigned, Queen’s University)

On January 24th, Patrick Brown resigned as leader of Ontario Progressive Conservative Party due to two women accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Of the two women that placed these allegations against Brown, one was a 19-year-old summer employee in his constituency office. She reported that while attending a party that was celebrating Hockey Night in Barrie, that started at a nightclub but moved to Brown’s house, Brown invited her into his bedroom. When he began kissing her, she froze and demanded that he took her back to her home, which he did so immediately.

After the allegations came forward, three of Brown’s senior campaign staff advised him to resign from his leadership position. When he made the decision to remain as leader after the allegations arose, the three staff members resigned from his campaign team. Later that evening, Patrick Brown delivered a speech at Queens Park where he “categorically” denied each accusation made against him. It was not until much later that night, and after hours of consulting with his family and caucus, that he decided to step down as Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

After his resignation, the position for the Leader of the Conservative Party became available and up for grabs. As the provincial election is only a few months away, several interested politicians have declared their candidacy for this notable position. Most notable, among the several aspirants are Doug Ford (brother of the former Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto) and Caroline Mulroney (daughter of Prime Minister Mulroney). With hopes of being Premier, both Ford and Mulroney have desires to lead the Progressive Conservative Party into the campaign season.

As a woman with strong aspirations to one day hold office at the provincial level, I find these accusations against MPP Brown to be very discouraging. In my opinion, there is no place for sexual assault in any world, especially the political world. As Canadians we should always hold the people we elect to the highest standard. We have elected them because we want them to represent us and our values. When we elect our politicians, we do so because we believe that they are best of society and the best people for the position. I commend both Premier Wynne and MPP Horwath on their comments on these allegations. The Premier has made it absolutely clear that “It Is Never Okay” for sexual harassment and assault to take place.

Of the two women that have come forward with the allegations against Brown, I am most sympathetic to the student with the summer position in his constituency office. As someone who has held the exact same position for a well-known Member of Provincial Parliament, I find it deeply disturbing that the woman felt obligated to return to Brown’s office after he allegedly assaulted her. I was so fortunate to have such a positive experience with the Member I was interning for, and he has always been a great Mentor to me. All young people with aspirations to be involved in politics deserve to have a mentor and to not be exploited or felt uncomfortable.

I am very proud of this woman for coming forward with the allegations and showing myself, and others, that it is more than okay to speak out against employers and people in positions of power.

As the election for a PC leader to replace Patrick Brown approaches us, so does the possibility of having women be the leaders of the three major political parties in the province. After the allegations against MPP Brown were made, MPP Horwath tweeted that “This morning, I’m reflecting on how now, more than ever, we need more women in politics. We need women to run, vote and lead.” Although having the three parties led by women would be a huge milestone for gender equality in politics, it is only a small step that can be taken to help put an end to the systemic issues in the male-dominated world that is politics.

For now, I am proud that every politician in the Legislature, regardless of their party, is making it very clear that sexual assault and misconduct will not be tolerated.



Benzie, Robert. “Patrick Brown resigns as PC leader amid sexual misconduct allegations.” thestar.com. 24 January 2018.

Crawley, Mike. “Sexual advances by Patrick Brown left woman feeling ‘anxious,’ she tells CBC News.” CBC News Toronto. 25 January 2018.