Controversial PC sex-ed letter distributed by Patrick Brown's chief of staff

Patrick Brown's chief of staff distributed a controversial letter on sex education a day before the Progressive Conservative leader said he first heard of it.

Brown says he was out of town when the letter went out, only saw it after it had been reported in the press

Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown at the party celebrating Raymond Cho's victory in the Scarborough-Rouge River byelection on Thursday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Patrick Brown's chief of staff distributed a controversial letter on sex education a day before the Progressive Conservative leader said he first heard of it, The Canadian Press has learned.

The letter that bore Brown's electronic signature said that if his party formed government, it would "scrap" the Liberals' updated sex-ed curriculum. Days later, Brown wrote an op-ed disavowing the letter, saying that the local Tory campaign in the Scarborough-Rouge River byelection "went too far."

Brown was up north for most of that week and said he only saw the letter after it went out last Friday — the day it was reported in the media — and was livid because it didn't reflect his views.

The Canadian Press has obtained an email that Brown's chief of staff, Nicolas Pappalardo, sent last Thursday to Queenie Yu, a former PC party worker who ran as an independent in the byelection, on a platform of opposing the new sex-ed curriculum.

"As a courtesy, please find attached an open letter to parents from the Leader of the PC Party of Ontario," Pappalardo wrote in the email, dated Aug. 25. "It will be distributed in the riding this weekend."

Brown and Pappalardo did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Yu attached the letter to a news release she sent out Friday, congratulating Brown on his position. The day after the byelection that was won by Progressive Conservative Raymond Cho, Yu provided Pappalardo's email to The Canadian Press.

"If I, the independent candidate who was supposedly taking votes away from Cho, received the letter early Thursday afternoon from the PC leader's office, it would have been unlikely that the leader himself did not know about it until midday on Friday," Yu wrote in an email.

The sex-ed controversy dominated the last week of the byelection campaign in a riding where the curriculum has not been well received. A promise to scrap it would have been popular, Brown has acknowledged.

Brown downplayed the letter's significance Thursday night after the byelection win, saying it "barely" got distributed in the riding. He refused to say who wrote it, but said after the byelection he would "make sure that we have a better organization going forward."