Patrick Brown has been disqualified from the federal Conservative leadership race, after ballots have already started being mailed out, and his campaign is battling what it calls anonymous allegations.
“This is reprehensible and undemocratic behavior that betrays the faith of hundreds of thousands of Canadians who embraced Patrick Brown’s vision of a modern, inclusive Conservative Party,” his campaign said. said in a written statement early Wednesday morning.
“This is an indictment of the (Conservative Party of Canada) and a party that is not serious about winning the general election,” Brown’s campaign continued. “It’s embarrassing. But not for us.”
Ian Brodie, chairman of the leadership election organizing committee, announced the startling decision late Tuesday night, saying the party had become aware of “serious allegations of wrongdoing” by the Brown campaign.
The allegations relate to Canada Elections Act funding rules, Brodie said in a written statement, but provided no further details.
In his statement, Brodie said the party’s returning officer informed Brown, who is the mayor of Brampton, Ont., of the concerns and requested a written response. He also decided not to publish the provisional list of members of his campaign.
Brodie said Brown’s campaign response did not address concerns and the returning officer recommended the leadership election organizing committee disqualify him, which he chose to do in a vote held at a meeting on Tuesday evening.
Brodie said the party will share what it has with Elections Canada.
He said he and the party’s returning officer had done their best to be fair to Brown, who is a former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, and give time to refute the allegations.
“None of these issues impact the integrity of the vote itself,” Brodie said.
“While we felt it was important to provide a transparent response to party members on this, as this matter is now under further investigation, we will not discuss it further.”
The Brown campaign challenged this characterization of the process.
“This decision is based on anonymous allegations. Our campaign was never provided with full details or evidence of these allegations, failing a fundamental requirement of due process,” its statement read.
He accused the party of embarking on a ‘fishing expedition’ and of not giving the campaign ‘enough time’ to respond, but said it ‘always complies with all bizarre requests and assertions not founded”. He also said the campaign learned of the disqualification and the meeting at which the decision was made by the media on Tuesday night.
The campaign said it was consulting with its legal team.
Brown’s campaign also accused the party of making the move in favor of Pierre Poilievre, the longtime Ottawa-area MP considered a frontrunner in the race – and Brown’s main rival.
“The attempt to silence Canadians and circumvent democratic values through this baseless disqualification is the only way to ensure his victory,” the statement said.
As of late Tuesday night, the Poilievre campaign had not commented on the news.
The Conservatives will announce the winner of the leadership race in Ottawa on September 10.
The other candidates in the running are Conservative MPs Leslyn Lewis and Scott Aitchison, as well as former Quebec premier Jean Charest and Roman Baber, a former independent member of the Ontario legislature.
A party spokesman said Tuesday evening that a large number of ballots had already been mailed to members.
Last week the party said around 675,000 members registered to vote for a new Conservative leader. The party described this as an unprecedented number for any federal political party.
The eligible voting base in 2020, when Erin O’Toole was elected leader, was approximately 270,000 members. At the start of this year, the party said it had 161,000 active and current members across Canada. About 48,000 of them were due to expire before the membership deadline in June.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 6, 2022.