Patrick Brown slams integrity complaint as 'entirely fictional'

Former PC leader Patrick Brown is lashing out at claims he breached the legislature's ethics rules, calling the complaint against him "imaginary" and "make-believe."

Former PC leader brushes off questions about his income, saying he spent $90,000 a year on his mortgage

Ontario PC leadership candidate Patrick Brown leaves the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario head office in Toronto on Tuesday. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown is lashing out at claims he breached the legislature's ethics rules, calling the complaint against him "imaginary" and "make-believe."

Brown rejected allegations that he received income and lavish gifts and conducted business deals without disclosing them to Ontario's integrity commissioner as required by provincial law covering MPPs.

Brown posted a two-page letter to Twitter on Thursday, laying out his response to a complaint filed this week by fellow Progressive Conservative MPP Randy Hillier. 

Brown's statement called the allegations "either entirely fictional, constituting defamatory baseless allegations … or statements of fact that are both true and perfectly acceptable." 

Hillier lodged his complaint on Tuesday. He questioned how Brown could afford the mortgage on his $2.3 million house and alleged Brown violated the rules for MPPs by failing to declare all his sources of income. 

Brown's response is that he spent approximately $90,000 of his annual $120,000 after-tax income on the mortgage and lived off the rest. 

'I don't tolerate dishonesty,' Conservative MPP Randy Hillier says of Brown's alleged ethics breach a day after filing a complaint with the province's integrity commissioner. (CBC)

Hillier also questioned how Brown paid for several trips overseas, including travel with his girlfriend, a Queen's Park intern at the time. Hillier suggested some business people may have covered the costs of the trips. If Brown, his office or the PC Party did not pay for the travel, failing to disclose the sponsor would breach the integrity rules.

Brown's statement said it's "simply false" that he accepted a gift of travel. He called the travel "cultural outreach missions … paid for by the PC Party, approved by the PC Ontario Fund."  

Hillier's complaint also referred to a report in the Globe and Mail alleging that PC candidate Jass Johal signed a legal document agreeing to pay Brown $375,000 to buy a stake in a Barrie restaurant called Hooligan's and to buy two million of his Aeroplan miles. 

"I decided not to proceed with the transaction, as I was simply not ready to give up my shares in the restaurant," said Brown in his response. "The transaction never happened." 

CBC News asked to speak to Brown about the allegations in the complaint on Wednesday evening but the request was denied.

Despite the ethics cloud and the accusations of sexual misconduct that triggered his resignation in late January, a PC Party vetting committee declared Brown eligible on Wednesday to run for the leadership. 

Brown is running against Tanya Granic Allen, Christine Elliott, Doug Ford and Caroline Mulroney.  

Mulroney called for Brown to step aside from the race on Thursday. 

Mulroney cited "allegations of misconduct, wrongdoing and fighting within our party" in urging Brown to give up his run for the leadership.

"This is a leadership race for the future of our party and Patrick Brown needs to step aside," said Mulroney on Twitter. "I hope the other candidates will join me in calling for him to step aside, instead of fighting for his second ballot support at the expense of our party."

Elliott rejected Mulroney's call for Brown to give up his leadership bid.

"The party has made their decision about which candidates are in this race, and it's time to move forward," Elliott said in a statement. "This is not the time to divide us further. And frankly, we are running out of time."  

Ford and Granic Allen have yet to comment.

PC members will vote for their party's new leader from March 2 to 8, and the winner will be announced on March 10.