Vic Fedeli refuses to comment on Patrick Brown, saying he 'must remain neutral' in PC leadership race
Interim Ontario PC leader Vic Fedeli kicked Brown out of caucus just days ago
Despite booting former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown from caucus just days ago, interim leader Vic Fedeli refused to comment on controversies enveloping Brown on Tuesday, saying he "must remain neutral" in the party's ongoing leadership contest.
"It's unfair to talk about Mr. Brown and those decisions. It happened before he entered the leadership race," Fedeli told reporters gathered at Queen's Park about his decision to remove Brown from caucus.
"I am not going to offer comment about a candidate or any of the history."
The move came just hours after Fedeli revealed that the Simcoe North MPP would be forced to sit as an independent in the Legislature.
When pressed by reporters to elaborate on his decision, Fedeli would say only that Brown's ouster followed the same protocols that Brown himself used to kick Ottawa-area MPP Jack MacLaren from caucus last year.
Fedeli also revealed that he wrote to the party executive before Brown joined the leadership race, raising concerns about his suitability as a Tory candidate.
"I wrote to the party president and indicated that Mr. Brown did not have my confidence to be party candidate in Barrie," Fedeli said.
Brown resigned his post as leader last month following allegations of sexual misconduct from two women, initially reported by CTV. Over the weekend, Brown held a campaign rally in Mississauga, Ont., during which he repeatedly said he has cleared his name since the allegations were published.
When pressed for comment on the various developing scandals dogging Brown, Fedeli said "it is not for me to comment on any of our candidates at all.
"Again, I think those are questions that you should ask Patrick Brown ... I am going to respect the process and let the leadership races play out."
Apart from Brown, four other candidates have entered the leadership contest. As of Tuesday morning, however, there was confusion about whether Brown would in fact be cleared to run for leader.
His candidacy must be approved by the PC's provincial nomination committee, which wields the power to reject a candidate on any grounds it sees fit. Fedeli stressed that he has no influences over the committee's decisions.
"It's an open and fair process. The rules apply to everyone, all of the five candidates that are entered," Fedeli said.
"I am going to leave it up to the leadership process."