Ex-leader Brown likely out as can­di­date

National Post (Latest Edition) - - CANADA - TOM BLACK­WELL

Whether he bows out on his own or is forced to do it, Pa­trick Brown will al­most cer­tainly not be run­ning as an On­tario Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date un­der new leader Doug Ford, Tory sources said Mon­day.

Mean­while, Ford’s team is re­view­ing sev­eral other rid­ings where nom­i­na­tion re­sults are in dis­pute, and may over­turn some of them, sources said.

If Brown does not run, it would mark the fi­nal chap­ter in his short, tu­mul­tuous ca­reer as a pro­vin­cial PC leg­is­la­tor.

He re­signed as leader in late Jan­uary, then briefly com­peted in the race to fill his old job. He had al­ready been nom­i­nated in Bar­rie— Springwater— Oro- Me­donte rid­ing, but in­terim leader Vic Fedeli stripped him of the can­di­dacy last month.

Brown has said he will vie for the Tory nod there again — and cur­rently has no chal­lenger for it.

But Ford’s team is wor­ried that the for­mer leader would be a “dis­trac­tion” in the June 7 elec­tion, draw­ing un­wanted me­dia at­ten­tion and op­po­si­tion at­tacks. “It would keep go­ing be­cause it’s news­wor­thy and there are po­lit­i­cal points in it,” said a source in Ford’s camp.

For now, the new leader is giv­ing him a chance to step away vol­un­tar­ily, the source said.

“I can’t imag­ine in what uni­verse Pa­trick would think it’s in his in­ter­est to run again,” said the ad­viser. “Most peo­ple are say­ing that Pa­trick has been kicked enough times that he prob­a­bly doesn’ t want to be kicked any more.”

But if push comes to shove, said an­other Tory source, Ford will bar Brown from run­ning.

A third Con­ser­va­tive close to the nom­i­na­tions process said the as­sump­tion was that none of the four lead­er­ship can­di­dates would have let him cam­paign as one of their can­di­dates.

Brown him­self is va­ca­tion­ing in Florida and could not be reached for com­ment.

He re­signed Jan. 25 over sex­ual- mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions he has called false and ma­li­cious, and is su­ing CTV News over the story that first aired the charges.

But com­plaints later arose about other con­tro­ver­sies, mostly around a dozen or so Con­ser­va­tive nom­i­na­tion elec­tions un­der his ad­min­is­tra­tion that ended with al­le­ga­tions of bal­lot stuff­ing, voter fraud or other ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

The party has al­ready over­turned two of them — in Toronto and Ot­tawa — but Ford’s team is cur­rently re­view­ing other nom­i­na­tions.

“Stay tuned, be­cause we’re go­ing to have some­thing to say soon­ish” on that is­sue, said the source in the new leader’s group.

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