Toronto

Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown running for mayor in Brampton

Patrick Brown, former leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative party, is running for mayor of Brampton, Ont.

Joins race on last day of registration, amid sudden electoral changes

Former leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives Patrick Brown is running for mayor in Brampton. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

Patrick Brown, former leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative party, is running for mayor of Brampton, Ont., CBC Toronto has learned. 

Brown showed up at Brampton City Hall on Friday — the last day of registration — to put his name forward. He will be running against incumbent Linda Jeffrey and five other candidates.

"I really want to help families, I want to continue to public service," Brown told CBC Toronto.

"Despite everything I've been through, I really believe that politics is a vehicle to help people and I think there's a real opportunity here in Brampton." 

Brown was expected by many to be Ontario's next premier until he was forced to resign as PC leader and was kicked out of caucus amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Brown sued CTV for $8 million for defamation after it reported allegations by two women dating back to when he was a federal MP. CTV is standing by its reporting and the lawsuit. The case is still before the courts.

His departure led to the arrival of Doug Ford as party leader and, after June's provincial election, Ontario's new premier. 

Brown cited escalating crime, "suffocating" gridlock and a lack of well-paying jobs as some of the current challenges facing the city.

The surprise move comes after Ford announced plans Friday morning to "pause" the election of chairs in Peel, York, Niagara and Muskoka regions; positions that have long been appointed but, under the previous Liberal government, were set to be elected.  

Brown was previously running for the chair of Peel and said he was "surprised" to hear of the premier's plans.

"I think it's unheard of to circumvent an election midway through that election process," he said.

"That hasn't happened in Canada."

Brown files papers at Brampton City Hall to join the mayoral race. (Adrian Cheung/CBC)

Immediate criticism

Despite Ford's move, Brown said he can still be useful in Brampton — a diverse, suburban community of some 570,000 people northwest of Toronto and, he said, the "heart of Peel Region." 

The key planks of his campaign are economic development, more resources for police and more health-care funding, he said.

Brown faced immediate criticism over his candidacy. 

Jeffrey, the incumbent, questioned his roots in the city, saying in a tweet that "the ink barely dried on [Brown's] lease before he decided to seek our city's highest office."

Brown's roots are in Barrie, Ont., a city of about 145,000 further north of Toronto. Brown represented the area in both the Ontario Legislature and as an MP. 

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who faced off against Brown when he was PC leader, joked that Brown had been listening to Bruce Springsteen songs because was "born to run." 

"No matter where he wants to run, he's born to run," said Horwath at a news conference.

Brown told reporters gathered at city hall that he had "deep connections" to the city, saying he practised law there before and after his time in provincial politics.

Brampton goes to the polls on Oct. 22. 

With files from Mike Crawley

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