Patrick Brown attempts political comeback in Peel
July 3, 2018
Patrick Brown is running to be the first elected chair of Peel Region.
The former Progressive Conservative leader, who might well have been Ontario’s premier, registered for the race on Tuesday.
Patrick Brown, former leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative party, has said he is writing a tell-all book, describing what he refers to as his "political assassination."
“I’m excited to go back to my roots in municipal politics. I believe in being collaborative and non-partisan; as I always say, there’s no monopoly on a good idea,” Brown said in an interview.
His potential candidacy was first revealed by the Star on May 17.
It is the beginning of a political comeback for the 40-year-old lawyer, who lives in Mississauga’s Lorne Park neighbourhood with his fiancée, less than six months after his stunning resignation as Tory leader.
Brown stepped down early on Jan. 25, hours after CTV News broadcast a report alleging sexual impropriety with two women.
He has denied any wrongdoing and is now suing CTV, which stands by its story, for $8 million.
His resignation from provincial politics triggered a PC leadership race, which was won by Doug Ford on March 10. Ford was elected premier after defeating Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals in the June 7 election.
Prior to that, Brown had led Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in most public-opinion polls for two years and appeared poised to become premier.
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A Conservative source said after Brown’s departure, he visited with his mentor, former Tory premier Bill Davis at his home in Brampton.
“The premier told Patrick when you get knocked down, you dust yourself off and get back up,” said the PC source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Last year, Queen’s Park made legislative changes to allow for the direct election of chairs in Peel and York Region as was already the case in Halton, Durham, and Waterloo. Previous Peel and York chairs were appointed.
With oversight of regional responsibilities such as policing and other emergency services as well as waste disposal, the chairs are influential.
“Gridlock, congestion, attracting high-paying jobs to the region, and overcrowding at Peel hospitals are key issues for residents here,” said Brown, who is widely seen as the front-runner of the seven candidates vying for the post.
Also registered to run are Mississauga Councillor Ron Starr, former Mississauga mayoral candidate Masood Khan, real estate broker Amir S. Ali, medical technologist Ken Looy, manufacturing and operations manager Vidya Sagar Gautam, and Marcin Huniewicz, a senior manager of contact centre operations at a fire and security firm.
Brown has a dozen honourary chairs on his campaign, including Bill McBain, an advisor to former NDP premier Bob Rae; Senator Victor Oh; Tiger Ali Singh, philanthropist and former professional wrestler; former Caledon fire chief Dave Forfar; businesswoman Asha Luthra, who was the first female president of the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce; Ramesh Chotai, the former chair of the Canada India Foundation, and Ruffy Romano, founder of Kalayaan Filipino Cultural Organization.
“I’m eager to be non-partisan,” said the former PC chief, who led the party from May 2015 until last January.
During his tenure, he made a point of reaching out to Ontario’s many cultural communities and recruited dozens of candidates for the party.
Several of his star recruits now sit in Ford’s cabinet, including Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, Environment Minister Rod Phillips, and Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy.
While he represented Barrie municipally and federally and Orillia provincially, Brown has lengthy family ties to Peel, which includes the cities of Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon.
His father has practised law there for four decades and his fiancee, Genevieve Gualtieri, hails from Lorne Park.
Since stepping down from provincial politics, he has been writing a memoir, entitled Take Down, The Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, which will be published by OPI in November.
In part because of that looming tell-all tome, not all Conservatives are happy to hear of Brown’s comeback.
At Queen’s Park, some Ford loyalists are quietly trying to find a high-profile candidate to take him on in the Oct. 22 election.
They have even put out feelers to former Liberal finance minister Charles Sousa, who was the Mississauga South MPP, but sources say he has not shown much interest.
Brown is not the only former provincial politician plunging into municipal politics. Steve Del Duca, the former economic development minister and Vaughan Liberal MPP, is the front-runner to be York Region’s first elected chair.
Del Duca announced his broad-based bid last month. His campaign manager is veteran Liberal Tom Allison, who helped Wynne become premier and John Tory become Toronto mayor, and his deputy campaign manager is Dimitri Soudas, a top adviser to former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.He is running against the current appointed York Chair Wayne Emmerson and former Liberal MPP Mario Racco.