Ex-leader Patrick Brown expelled from Ontario PC caucus
Decision made by interim leader Vic Fedeli days before MPPs return to Queen's Park
Patrick Brown, who resigned as leader amid accusations of sexual misconduct, has been expelled from Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party caucus just days before the legislature is set to resume.
Interim leader Vic Fedeli said in a statement on Friday that he had originally asked Brown to "step aside" from the caucus when he was appointed to the position late last month.
"Earlier today, Mr. Brown was notified that he has been removed from the PC Caucus effective immediately," Fedeli said.
"The same procedure was followed when Mr. Brown removed Jack MacLaren from the PC Caucus."
Brown accused of sexual misconduct
The move comes a day after Brown said that he intends to sue CTV News to restore his reputation after the broadcaster changed elements of alleged incidents that forced him to resign as the PC leader.
Brown, who won the leadership race in 2015 and steered the party in a different direction, is accused of sexual misconduct by two women dating back to when he was a federal MP in the Barrie, Ont., area.
Brown "vehemently" denies the allegations. On Tuesday, the timeline of one of the women's allegations, first reported by CTV News on Jan. 24, was changed.
The woman alleged Brown tried to force her to perform oral sex on him at his Barrie home more than a decade ago, after meeting him in a bar. She originally said she was in high school and under the legal drinking age at the time.
On Tuesday, she said that she was not in high school or under the legal drinking age.
"In the court of public opinion and among the many journalists I've spoken to, these allegations are now seen for what they are — fictitious and malicious," Brown wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.
The woman told CBC News in a statement from her lawyer, David Butt, on Wednesday: "I stand firmly by the truth of what I said about Patrick Brown's conduct involving me."
She referred to the timeline difference as "collateral details" and explained they "are not important."
Butt added while these particular elements can fade over time, the allegations of sexual misconduct remain an integral part of the core story.
"Ask anyone about an important event in their life, calendar dates are not printed on the bottom of those memories like they are on digital cameras," he said.
"We simply tend not to remember in terms of … dates and time. What we remember are key events in relation to more physical elements of our surroundings rather than the concept of time and date."
Meanwhile, CTV News is standing by its story.
"Patrick Brown's allegations regarding our reporting are false," said Bell Media spokesperson Matthew Garrow in an email on Wednesday.
"The two women have reiterated their allegations of sexual misconduct by Patrick Brown. His attacks on our journalistic practices are groundless and wrong."
Ontario PC leadership race underway
The PC caucus is dealing with the fallout of Brown's departure as it works to find a replacement months before the provincial election and in one of the shortest leadership races ever.
Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney, Doug Ford and Tanya Granic Allen are seeking the party's leadership. Tory members will select a new leader on March 10.
While he is no longer party leader or a member of the PC caucus, Brown remains the MPP for Simcoe North.
Questions had originally remained about Brown's role in the party as there was nothing stopping him from taking his seat when the provincial legislative session begins on Tuesday.
Brown is also officially nominated as the party candidate in the riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.
Fedeli has previously said he would not sign Brown's nomination papers as a candidate if the allegations against him haven't been cleared. Other party officials have not indicated any plan to unseat him, while they have overturned the nominations of two PC candidates in Scarborough Centre and Ottawa West-Nepean.