Listen Up! Patrick Brown is not Harvey Weinstein

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Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

We Need to Think About This … 

Ever since Patrick Brown was summarily bounced from the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, I have ducked the issue. I am not sure why. Perhaps I was afraid of the inevitable pushback. For sure, I did not want to appear unsympathetic to victims of sexual abuse. In the end however, I feel compelled to write about it.

It is no secret that Brown is not one of my favorite politicians. I never thought he was a strong leader and I have said on more than one occasion that I felt he lacked the charisma or “royal jelly” to be effective as Premier of Ontario. It was also not always clear what he stood for. I feared that Kathleen Wynne, in spite of her terrible legacy of incompetence, would once again win the day if Patrick Brown was her main competition. You will be unsurprised therefore, when I say that I am not sorry that Patrick Brown is no longer Leader of the Ontario P.C.’s. I believe the Conservatives will be better off with a new leader and a vigorous leadership campaign prior to the provincial election in June.

However, the manner in which Patrick Brown was toppled from the leadership of his Party has left a very bad taste in my mouth. The fact that the two incidents, both of which go back a number of years, were reported less than four months before a Provincial election, cannot have been a coincidence. Somebody planned this. I confess, that at first blush I suspected this was a dirty Liberal plot but now I am not so sure.

Now I wonder if it was not the Tories themselves, or a group of them, who torched Brown? It all seemed to go too smoothly. First the allegations by anonymous sources and then within hours, pressure on Brown from Caucus to resign. Before the night was out, there was Vic Videli declaring he wanted the Leadership, almost before Brown had even left the building. Within a very few days, there was an unprecedented purge of Party and legislative staff, admittedly some of it deserved. To me, it had the markings of a well orchestrated coup.

Politics is a blood sport. Nobody gets that more than I do. Surely however, there are limits and I believe the line was crossed with Patrick Brown. The consequences to him, of his downfall are limitless. He not only lost the Leadership of his Party, his political career is toast. In many ways he is a ruined man and will likely have great trouble re-establishing his law career. He has been tried and convicted and severely punished. It is nothing short of vigilante politics. Of course, the allegations against Brown, which stem from the time he was a member of Parliament in Ottawa, must be taken seriously. But they have not been authenticated and the timing of their revelation is deeply suspicious.

Janet Ecker is a former Ontario Finance Minister and a highly regarded political commentator. Shortly after the fall of Patrick Brown she was a guest on TVO’s ‘Agenda’ and she was asked what she thought of the allegations against him. She did not condone them, but she said something like this. She said there is a wide spectrum of events that constitute sexual impropriety. At one end of the spectrum are the despicable antics of people like the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world whose behaviour is disgusting and likely indictable. Weinstein’s systemic abuse of women is well documented and this type of behaviour should have been wiped out long ago. No question about that and more power to the women who are speaking out.

On the other end of the spectrum however, is behaviour that Ecker suggests, amounts to what could be described as a really bad date. The problem she went on to say, was that in this day and age, all of these matters are painted with the same brush, regardless of the degree of severity and they are all lumped into the same basket, with equal condemnation and punishment to all. That, in my view, and I believe from their columns, in the view of others like Christie Blatchford of the National Post and Rosie Dimanno, of the Toronto Star, is what happened to Patrick Brown.

Why is this important? For two reasons really. First, by lumping all indiscretions in the same basket it could diminish the severity of the really serious cases of sexual assault that should not be ignored. Secondly, it irrevocably ruins the lives and reputations of people whose actions may not deserve that consequence.

An example of that latter point, is an accusation levelled at veteran Commentator, Steve Paikin, who ruefully acknowledged last week, “Okay, now it’s my turn”. He has been accused by a former Toronto Mayoral candidate with beginning a luncheon conversation with her by asking her if she would sleep with him. He, like Patrick Brown, has vehemently denied the accusation. Now I don’t know Patrick Brown, but I have known Steve Paikin for more than 20 years. First of all, he is not stupid. He would know the consequences of saying that. If anything, in my view, Paikin is a bit of a prude, who would never make a rude comment or an indecent proposal. Nevertheless, he has been accused, and although TVO has made the courageous decision to keep him on the air during an investigation, he is tainted by this and he knows that one way or another he will pay a price for it. As he said, it was his turn.

The inevitable question is whose turn will it be next? Could it be Justin Trudeau? Might it be Doug Ford? What if it’s John Tory? And when it happens, to whomever it happens, what will be our response? Will we apply the same standards to everyone or just to the people we dislike or with whom we disagree? What standards will we apply to decide if an accusation is reliable? Will we demand authenticity from the accusers, or will we just throw the baby out with the bath water?

We need to think seriously about that.

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14 Comments

  1. I believe his actions were with underage girls…let’s protect our youth where we can..even if its not a recent accusation….

    • This is how the misinformation starts and claims get exaggerated……
      I think if you read the allegations against Mr. Brown you would find neither of the women involved is claimed to be under aged, young perhaps, but not underage. That would involve a different set of charges being sought here. They would both be approximately 30 years old now which again also raises the questions of who are they, and why did they wait so long?
      I will never condone what appears to be predatory behavior on the part of Mr. Brown or any man however rich and powerful he presents himself to be, but let’s keep the facts straight here. This is not a child abuse case…

    • Vicki Campbell on

      Commenting without educating yourself about this story only adds fuel to fire and are false allegations in themselves but with a much more serious twist. No, the girls were not underage. I agree we need to protect our youth, but not from Patrick Brown.

  2. As I said when this broke , it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a PC plot.It was a horrible mistake when Brown gained the leadership as he appeared like like a Hudak clone and unelectable.The allegations are nameless and faceless and that is indeed a slippery slope !

    • Victoria Lazier on

      Great article Hugh. It is important to maintain a balanced perspective and it takes courage to speak up. Thank you!

  3. Good comments Hugh.
    I have to admit that it sticks in my craw just a bit that Paikin gets immediate benefit of the doubt and stays in his job while the matter pertaining to him is investigated. As you suggested, Paikin is likeable and apparently reputable. So TVO treats him differently than they likely would have someone else.
    There is a strong smell of inconsistency and injustice about it all.

  4. Frances Botham on

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the blatant setup to oust Patrick Brown. It also does cast a shadow on the PC’s as being the possible perpetrators. What is so wrong about the whole thing is that the accusers were allowed to hide behind a veil of secrecy. Further, it is atrocious that the Conservative Party did not rally behind their leader, chosen by their majority vote. Rather they scattered and sniped with comments about not liking him anyway! Guess my philosophy of standing up for the leader of your Political party is not viable anymore. It takes unity, integrity and a strong backbone to get rid of the Liberals in Ontario. Too bad the Conservatives have obviously lost those traits.

  5. (MSM fails to bring up the fact that Brown stated POVERTY would be requried in his vision of a have and have not Ontario)
    An Ideal that would cost municipal tax payers into the no retirement plan days. Add to this his plan to roll back wages !)
    Brown has abusive thinking , chatter about mail box suffing shows entitlement thinking on his part !)

  6. Kathryn Henderson on

    I am totally against harrasment in the workplace having gone through some myself. Not sexual harrasment but harrasment. I think this is a planned fake accusations and agree that with women coming out of the woodwork right before elections is suspect and kills a person’s reputation even if it is decided he is innocent his name is still linked with harrasment . Now I have trouble believing any accusations which is sad for the real victims.

  7. Robert Attfield on

    I was hoping that Doppler would be an objective source of news for the Muskoka community. It has been made clear to me by a number of articles by Mr. Mackenzie, and clearly acknowledged by him, that he has a strong Conservative bias. This would be acceptable if equal space were allotted to other viewpoints, (rather than just providing space for comments.)
    Doppler has a right to it’s own perspective on political matters, just as CNN, Fox News, the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and other media sources take political stands. However, if Doppler is the primary source of local online news, which I suspect it may be, the playing field becomes tilted. This is not healthy, and potentially dangerous, for a democracy. I firmly believe that Doppler’s credibility and public approval ratings would be enhanced by greater objectivity in respecting, reporting and providing equal space for differing political viewpoints. I hope that the editor(s) of Doppler will give some serious consideration to this suggestion

    • Elizabeth Rice - Doppler Publisher on

      Robert,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      I can assure you that at Doppler we work very hard to source varying viewpoints for publication, but it is not easy. Not very many people are comfortable writing an opinion piece on a regular basis. We were fortunate to have Dale Peacock, writing from primarily a liberal perspective, for a while but she has stepped away for now. We would be thrilled if more people would agree to submit a commentary piece. We agree that providing an opportunity for a diverse discussion is very important. Rest assured, we strive to do that.

  8. I believe that any harrassment or inappropriate behaviour is completely unacceptable despite whether we “liked” the person nor our own limited perception of that person. We see this every day in most worplaces and do nothing about it. The Me Too movement is changing attitudes with action and most people just dont like change. Every person deserves respect and dignity. Taking advantage of someone just because you could get away with it is no longer a reality. For politics there seems to be no limits, just look at Donald Trump. For Ontario, we witnessed the desperation of the Conservative Party to win by any means possible and I am sure they are not finished yet. One thing for sure, the workplace and our personal relationships with each other can only get better.

  9. I appreciate each person’s comments on this very sensitive and controversial issue. I do, however, worry about the impact which the allegations have upon those who are accused and later, upon intensive and careful analysis, are aquitted.
    Unfortunately, the media is very active in reporting the initial allegations, but far less aggressive in reporting the aquittal .
    I have observed over the years the devestating effects ,regardless of the aquittal, which unfold for the person involved and for her or his families, friends and their personal lives.
    I hope that the issues, effectively addressed, will result in justice for each of us, and more sensitive
    and responsible media.

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