Patrick Brown begins campaign to rise from political ashes in Brampton mayoral race
'It's like coming back to my roots here in this campaign,' Brown said on the trail
Brampton mayoral hopeful Patrick Brown hit the campaign trail over the weekend and defended himself against criticism that he's a parachute candidate with no deep ties to the city.
The former Progressive Conservative leader made stops at various events in the city, including at a gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, in Malton and a muscular dystrophy charity drive hosted by Brampton firefighters.
Brown is taking on incumbent Linda Jeffrey, mayor since 2014 and a one-time Liberal MPP at Queen's Park.
"While I welcome Mr. Brown's entry into the race I would like to bring to the attention of Brampton voters that the ink barely dried on his lease before he decided to seek our city's highest office," she tweeted shortly after the news of his candidacy broke online.
Brown has roots in Barrie, Ont., where he served as an MP during Stephen Harper's government and later as an MPP in the nearby riding of Simcoe North. He says he now lives in Brampton, with his fiance, "across from Gage Park" and that they will stay in the city even if he loses his bid for the mayor's seat.
'It's about your ideas'
On Sunday, Brown pushed at Jeffrey.
"I think if Linda Jeffrey is proud of her own record, then she'll campaign on her record instead of attacking others," he said.
"It's not about who's been in the country club the longest. It's about your ideas."
Brown said his campaign will be about limiting taxes and crime, reducing traffic gridlock and securing a "fair share" of funding for hospitals, schools and transit projects. Under Jeffrey, according to Brown, Brampton has become accustomed to taking "political scraps" from Queen's Park.
He points to the fact that Scarborough is set to receive a $4.6 billion subway extension, while only about $200 million has been put aside for light rail in Brampton. Similarly, he says, the province recently committed $25 million to combat firearm-related crime in Toronto and Ottawa, while Brampton, where crime is "through the roof," received nothing.
"The city that Bill Davis helped build and shape should not be hurting like this. The political leadership has failed," he continued.
Brown entered the mayor's race in Brampton after Premier Doug Ford's newly elected PC government moved to cancel the regional chair election in Peel — in which he had initially intended to run — as well in York, Muskoka and Niagara.
Brown says he could work with Ford
Until January of this year, Brown was preparing to lead the PCs into the June provincial election. However, he was forced to resign in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct that dated back to his time as an MP. Brown immediately and vehemently denied the allegations, and he is currently suing Bell Media and CTV News, which first reported the accusations.
Brown's departure opened to the door to Ford's leadership campaign, which he eventually won. Ford has been deeply critical of Brown's tenure as PC party leader, and after he was elected leader, he purged many of Brown's top loyalists from the party ranks.
Brown, however, said Sunday that the bad blood between the two men would not affect his ability to work co-operatively with Queen's Park as Brampton's mayor.
"It's not about personal relationships. I want results for Brampton. And if Doug Ford or Justin Trudeau deliver for Brampton, I'll praise them, I'll work with them. But if they don't deliver for Brampton, we'll hold them accountable," he said.
With files from Talia Ricci