The Political Takedown of Patrick Brown - Part One

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

December 11th, 2018



It’s not a Shakespearean plot. Though old William would have found it worthy. The story of an ambitious young man climbing up the political ladder to the top of his organization, only to be stabbed in the back by his compatriots. Oh wait a minute, that sounds familiar!

Takedown cover

Patrick Brown was not going to slink away – he wrote a book about what happened – and then went off to get elected as Mayor of Brampton.

Patrick Brown paid a heavy price for advancing his political philosophy with the Ontario PCs, while those about him were into the darker side of social and environmental politics. He labels himself a progressive or red Tory. His heroes and mentors are Bill Davis, Jean Charest and Brian Mulroney, probably in that order. He had been born into a political family and politics was his life’s aspiration.

He seized the opportunity to get elected into Stephen Harper’s first minority government but was uncomfortable voting the party line on issues like opposing same-sex marriage and reopening the abortion debate, though he did anyway. But his reticence was obviously noticed and so he never made it to the front line of the Harper team, but was relegated to the back benches.

I know this because it is in his book titled ‘Takedown’. Tired of taking abuse from his own party which was moving even further to the right, Brown sought the leadership of the Ontario PCs.

Christine Elliot was the heir apparent, the favourite establishment candidate. But even after the three other establishment candidates had dropped out, she couldn’t muster enough voting members to defeat Brown’s well organized campaign.

Brown with members of Asian community

Brown included the south east Asian community in a way they had not been included in the past by the provincial Tories. It paid off for him

As an MP Brown had used his position to cultivate friendships with the Tamil, Indian, and Muslim ethnic communities. His reward was their support when he ran for leader of the provincial party, and afterwards when, as leader, he grew the provincial party’s membership from 10,000 to well over 100,000. As leader Brown also eliminated the party’s seven million dollar debt and stashed another four million aside for the 2018 election war chest.

But it was inevitable. He was the newbie with no history or buddies in the provincial party and he had stolen the leadership from the chosen one. And what may have seemed like a gentle breeze of resistance from the party stalwarts on his way up the pecking order would eventually turn into a powerful headwind pushing him rapidly back down.

He really should have read Julius Caesar. What probably sealed his fate was the party’s policy conference where all of Brown’s platform ideas got molded into his People’s Guarantee. It was a very comprehensive platform and he earned the wrath of the religious right by confirming that the sex-ed program brought in by the Liberals would stay in place.

Brown cultivates the LGBT community

Brown cultivates the LGBT community

Then he added insult to injury by promising to replace the provincial cap and trade program with a revenue neutral carbon tax which would be used to finance income tax cuts. That this also met the criteria for Mr.Trudeau’s mandated carbon pricing infuriated the party elders who also like to keep at least one eye on federal politics.

By early January this year it was becoming apparent that the Wynne Liberals were heading for a major defeat and that a PC majority was almost a given. That would mean that this red Tory, Brown, would be in power for at least the next four years and possibly eight. And since Brown had consented to continue much of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal program there had be consternation among the old guard about where this grand old party was heading.

Except for his promises of ending the Green Energy Act and making tax cuts Brown might have been just another Liberal dressed in blue clothing. This was not the path that conservative oriented parties everywhere were going. So a revolt was no doubt in the works. And it had to happen before he ran and won the upcoming provincial election in June of this year. We’ll discuss how it all seemed to go wrong for Brown in the next part of this series.

To be continued…….

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers


Background links:

Brown –      Brown’s Book

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