ONTARIO – Embattled former PC leader Patrick Brown will not be allowed to run as a Tory candidate in the June election.
The party’s nomination committee, which made the announcement Thursday night, met earlier in the day and said “the unanimous decision … was that Patrick Brown will not be an eligible candidate for nomination in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte,” said party president Jag Badwal.
Soon after the decision, Brown tweeted: “After much thought, I will not be running in the upcoming provincial election” and that he “(remains) committed to the Conservative movement and to the well-being of my local community.” But sources told the Star Brown had been informed well before the announcement that he would not be able to run as a Tory.
The party has been reviewing a number of controversial riding contests under Brown’s tenure, and also has now overturned nominations in Brampton North, Mississauga Centre and Newmarket-Aurora.
The move comes five days after Doug Ford was elected party leader to replace Brown, who resigned after being accused of sexual misconduct involving two young women and amid other concerns about his dealings while at the helm.
“Doug Ford has been clear, the membership of our party must be respected, and heard,” Badwal also said.
The nominations committee has also “set aside the nomination in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas as a result of the flawed process,” which led to a lawsuit and police investigation, Badwal said.
The overturned nominations in Greater Toronto have led to speculation that former MPP Frank Klees might be mounting a comeback as the candidate in Newmarket-Aurora.
He was at last weekend’s leadership event and spoke out strongly to reporters in favour of Ford, and was upset at voting troubles that delayed results being announced.
The Tories have been looking at a number of candidate nominations for weeks now.
Ford told the Star on Wednesday that it was time for the party to “move on” after the chaos caused by Brown.
“I’m tired of this Patrick Brown saga,” he said.
Brown was kicked out of caucus last month.
Sources told the Star that one of the other overturned Greater Toronto ridings — either Brampton or Mississauga — could be taken by Christine Elliott, who came a very close second to Ford in her leadership bid.
About a dozen Tory nominations across the province ended in controversy, and the party has previously overturned Scarborough Centre and Ottawa West-Nepean after allegations of unfair practices — including more ballots in the boxes than registered voters.
Ford said Thursday night that he is “pleased to learn of the decisions” of the nominations committee.
“As leader, I am fully focused on the June election and taking the fight to Kathleen Wynne.