Controversial MPP booted from PC caucus,
Brown’s patience snaps after 2012 tape shows MacLaren badmouthing bilingualism
It was an ejection or a rejection.
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has finally turfed controversial MPP Jack MacLaren from caucus after a fourth incident embarrassing to the party.
But MacLaren claimed Sunday he quit the Tories to join the fledgling right-wing Trillium party “after months of deliberation and discussion with my constituents.”
“The Trillium party will give me the opportunity to speak freely on my constituents’ behalf, to vote freely on their behalf and to have input into all policy-making on their behalf,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
Earlier on Sunday, MacLaren, who did not return messages from the Star, was removed by the Tory caucus after CFRA Radio in Ottawa posted video of him from 2012 disparaging bilingualism in Eastern Ontario.
“You don’t have to convince me what’s wrong with French-language education in Ontario,” the Carleton—Mississippi Mills MPP told people lamenting French-language requirements for many jobs in the Ottawa area.
“You’re right, but you won’t hear it because we’re trying to get elected. We have lots of things that we’re going to do that we won’t say before the election because we won’t get elected,” he continued in the 23-minute video.
While MacLaren was a key player in Brown’s successful 2015 leadership campaign, that fourth transgression was the tipping point.
“I am building a modern, inclusive Ontario PC Party, one where it doesn’t matter where you’re from, who you love, where you worship, what language you speak or how much money you make,” said Brown.
“Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that Jack MacLaren does not share these values. This video is the final straw. I have expelled Jack MacLaren from the PC caucus. The expulsion is indefinite. He will not be a PC candidate in the next provincial election,” the Tory leader said. “Each time Jack MacLaren is caught making disparaging or insensitive remarks about others, he asks for forgiveness and a second chance. And a third chance. And a fourth. And each and every time, he has disappointed those who have put their trust in him,” he said.
“This video is part of a pattern with Jack MacLaren. Clearly the real Jack MacLaren is the one we heard making derogatory comments towards women at the Carp Fair Men’s Night, who published fake testimonials praising himself from fake constituents on his website and who came out against a zero-tolerance policy against sexual abuse.”
That’s a reference to the Star revealing last spring that MacLaren made sexist remarks about his federal counterpart, Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon, at a cancer fundraiser in front of 350 people. Afterward, Brown ordered MacLaren to stay away from the legislature until he completed sensitivity training.
The Ottawa Citizen then found the MPP’s official website contained six fake testimonials from satisfied “constituents” accompanied by photos lifted from the Internet.
And MacLaren was forced to apologize for declaring that it was dangerous to have a zero-tolerance policy for doctors accused of sexually abusing their patients.
His former caucus mates praised Brown for taking action, saying MacLaren was a liability who could have jeopardized the Tories’ chances of toppling Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals next year.
“Not a team player. Bye bye,” tweeted popular Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton). MacLeod was among several MPPs helping rival candidates challenging MacLaren for the nomination in the newly redistributed riding of Kanata-Carleton, just west of Ottawa.
He will now run as a Trillium candidate, which could hurt the Tories’ chances in the riding if the conservative vote splits.
Against that backdrop, some PC activists are questioning Brown’s timing. One insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal party machinations, wondered if Brown kicked MacLaren out because he might have won the Kanata-Carleton nomination over preferred candidate Merrilee Fullerton.
“This video has been around for years — it was well known that Jack had publicly said this kind of stuff. So why now?” the insider said.
Controversial Progressive Conservative MPP Jack MacLaren announced on Sunday via Twitter that he will now join the right-wing Trillium party.