Patrick Brown does double duty as MP and Ontario PC leadership contender

After spending the last three months on the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership campaign trail, Patrick Brown took a brief break from the hustings earlier this month — not to squeeze in a little rest and relaxation, but to take a whirlwind visit to India, courtesy of the Gujaret government.

Barrie Conservative 'committed to representing constituents' while on campaign trail, spokeswoman says

Conservative MP Patrick Brown, left, shown here at his annual Hockey Night in Barrie fundraiser in support of the local hospital, has decided not to step down from the House of Commons while running for the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership. (Patrick Brown)

After spending the last three months on the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership campaign trail, Patrick Brown took a brief break from the hustings earlier this month — not to squeeze in a little rest and relaxation before returning to the political fray, but to head off on a whirlwind visit to India, courtesy of the Gujaret government. 

"I took 36 hrs off touring Ontario to go visit my old friend PM @NarendraModi in India & launch http://www.gujaratisforpatrick.ca," Brown tweeted upon his return to Canada.

He also sent an email to supporters highlighting his recent trip, where, he wrote, he "had the honour of representing Canada" at the summit, which was organized by the Gujarat government.

"Joining notables such as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, I delivered the keynote address to more than 200 Ontario business and community leaders, including the ICCC and CIF delegations," he wrote.

The email featured a picture of Brown posing alongside Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as links to the both newly launched website and a provincial Progressive Conservative party membership renewal form.

No complaints

As yet, none of Brown's PC leadership rivals have raised the issue of his doing political double-duty — nor were any willing to even question his decision to stay on the parliamentary payroll pending the results of the race.

"Patrick remains committed to representing his constituents during the PC Party of Ontario Leadership campaign in the same outstanding manner as he has throughout the last nine years as their Member of Parliament," campaign communications director Tamara Macgregor told CBC News via email.

She noted that, since Confederation, 35 MPs have run for a provincial party leadership without stepping down from the Commons, including Jean Charest, Brian Tobin, Catherine Callbeck and Bob Rae, among others.

And, she pointed out, Newfoundland Liberal MP Gerry Byrne has served notice he intends to run in the upcoming provincial election, but will remain in the House until he wins his provincial party nomination.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed that members who contest a party leadership aren't asked to step down — or even leave caucus.

"We do, however, expect them to continue to fulfill their parliamentary responsibilities, including membership on committees and attendance at votes," he noted.

Brown boasts 55 per cent House voting rate

According to Hansard, since declaring his candidacy last September, Brown has asked one question in the House, presented two petitions, delivered three pre-question period members' statements and spoke three times during an NDP-sponsored debate on thalidomide.

As for his voting record, he was marked present for 42 out of 76 possible votes, which gives him an attendance rate of 55 per cent —  definitely below average, but not even close to the worst in the Commons, particularly given the practice of holding multiple votes at the same time.

Taking that into account, a survey of the records shows he missed 11 vote nights over the course of the fall sitting.  

Outside the precinct, meanwhile, he keeps his official MP website up to date with regular bulletins on his non-leadership-related activities.

Recent posts include his Christmas video greeting to constituents, a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird that proposes a travel ban on Sri Lankan government officials and photos from his annual Free Family Skate, which collects donations for the local food bank.

Brown also remains the Conservative candidate of record for the federal riding of Barrie-Innisfil.

Conservative Party spokesman Cory Hann told CBC News that, as far as the federal party is concerned, Brown is still a sitting MP who won his nomination.

"Unless that changes he remains a candidate for the Conservative Party in the upcoming October election," he added.

Ontario Tories will choose their leader May 7.


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