Rivers on Patrick Brown - Part 3 - It Was Pretty Ugly

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 17th, 2019


Ray Rivers has been writing on just what did happen to former Conservative party leader Patrick Brown who got ousted from the political party he led.

This, the third of a four part series is based on an interview he had with Patrick Brown.

Takedown coverBrown’s book is a refreshing tell-all which goes beyond just reporting his version of events, to provide an insight into the dirty side of our democracy. The degree of corruption which plagued the provincial Progressive Conservatives in the run up to the 2018 election is shocking. Claims of ballot stuffing, fake voter ID and fraudulent voting are the kinds of tales we expect to hear about elections in the banana republics, not as an inherent aspect of Ontario’s natural governing party trying to govern itself.

Losers in nomination battles regularly complain about some kind of cheating – it was never their fault they lost, of course. But what went on with the Conservatives last year was remarkable. Patrick Brown had been leader for less than three years but his accomplishments were spectacular. Converting a seven million dollar debt to a $4 million war chest and multiplying party membership more than tenfold were not insignificant feats. But he obviously didn’t see this coming.

By the end of 2017 the party was leading the governing Liberals by 20 points in most polls. There was no question that Brown and his party would make up Ontario’s next government and if you wanted to be sure of a seat in the next legislature you needed to be a Tory candidate. It would be like having a winning lotto ticket in your pocket and a government pension in the bank.

Instead of the usual couple of hundred candidates looking to be their party’s nominee, there were something approaching a thousand interested PC candidates. And the party was unprepared for the onslaught. Most critically, the vetting of candidates to weed out the criminals, liars and weirdos had to be contracted out, slowing down the process even more, particularly when there were issues of accuracy and honesty.

Jane Michael

Jane Michael

That became a problem for Burlington candidate Jane Michael’s, according to Mr. Brown. Her approval as a candidate was held up because she had falsely indicated that she’d never had a bankruptcy, when in fact she’d had several. In the end she was given a green light regardless. But the nomination was messy and, having lost, she filed an appeal to the party based on all the many irregularities her team had witnessed in that contest.

The party felt they could not uphold her appeal given how she had completed her nomination form. Interestingly, she was subsequently acclaimed as Burlington’s federal Conservative candidate for the upcoming election this October. Could it be that lying and bankruptcy are à la mode after Donald Trump won the US presidency?

Then there were the fixers, Snover Dhillon in particular, a convicted fraudster who had been a strong supporter of Mr. Brown. He acted as a middle man for candidates, scaring up new members and whatever else he needed to do to win the nomination for those candidates willing to pay him. He was active in as many as twenty riding associations; chaos and voting irregularities seemed to follow him everywhere.

Brown mostly stayed away from the messy competitive and troublesome nomination battles, showing up mainly at the acclamations. He admitted that he regrets not just appointing even more candidates, something that Mr. Ford, his successor, ended up doing.

One of Brown’s acclamations was Brian Mulroney’s daughter Caroline. She was reluctant to run in a downtown Toronto riding, so Brown found her another one. Mulroney was on-side with Brown’s policies including retaining the existing sex-education curriculum and implementing the federally mandated carbon tax. After all her father had been recognized as Canada’s most environmental PM.


Caroline Mulroney – had no trouble totally reversing her positions when Mr. Ford offered her a senior cabinet post.

But she had no trouble totally reversing her positions when Mr. Ford offered her a senior cabinet post and made her responsible to battle the federal government on the carbon tax. One could call that another victory for opportunism over ethics.

Another Brown recruit, now the province’s environment minister, Rod Phillips, slid into his job by also abandoning any commitment he had held to the most efficient way of fighting global warming.

Brown is a red Tory, in the style of Bill Davis, Jean Charest and to a lesser extent Brian Mulroney. His vision is of a modern progressive conservative party, the big umbrella which accommodates most of the people of Ontario. He had little tolerance for yesterday’s fights against LBGTQ, same sex marriage and abortion as he tried to make his party more like the ‘progressive’ in its name.

But if he represented the mainstream among PC membership, the most vociferous and loudest voices were those of the special interests. There are the religious right-wing radicals, like former leadership candidate Tanya Granic Allen, intent on keeping children ignorant of their own sexuality, and wanting to help us speed up a man-made hell on earth by banning renewable energy.

And there were the neo-cons, those who fancy themselves as libertarians and/or social conservatives who would like to turn the clock back. The mere mention of refugees and immigration in general would cause their necks to redden even more. Disciples of dishonoured trickle-down economics, they forever lobby for lower taxes for the rich and less welfare for the poor. Most see a future where all regulation, aka red tape, is eliminated. That is unless it serves to protect the wealthy or powerful and their style of life.


Brown proved to be fleet of foot – locked out of Peel he ran for Mayor of Brampton and won.

Brown is now a municipal politician which limits any involvement he might want to have in his former political party. And in any case that political party has disappeared in everything but name. Doug Ford’s party has no place for a progressive. And most of those influential in the current caucus were part of the very crowd that stabbed the knife in Brown’s back.  There are others who are either afraid to speak up or happy to compromise their integrity to stay in power.

The book in which he ‘told-it-all’ has closed the door for him on that chapter of his career.

After only half a year in power Ford is still enjoying his honey moon. But buyer’s remorse is always around the corner when someone as charismatic and divisive as Doug Ford becomes the new emperor. Still, he has a solid majority of MPPs to allow him to do what he wants for the next four years, regardless how they got elected; this is not the first time we’ve seen corruption in a political party. One only has to recall the Liberal sponsorship scandal.

Patrick Brown doesn’t lay the blame on the ugly nomination process for the coup over his leadership and for his ultimate banishment from the Tory caucus. Clearly it didn’t help that he made enemies, but these nominations always result in disappointments even if the rules are actually followed. Brown says he loves his new job as mayor and has his hands full managing the city of Brampton.

Still nobody should think he’s resigned himself from an even grander ambition.

To be continued….

Ray 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

Related news stories:

Rivers on Brown – part 1; the political take-down.

Rivers on Brown – part 2; He said – she said.

Background links:

Brown’s Book –    Burlington Nomination –      Jane McKenna

Michaels’ Appeal –      Federal Tories –      Michael Censured

Nomination Messes –      Ugly Messes –      Police Investigation

Brown Law Suit –      Caroline Mulroney

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4 comments to Rivers on Patrick Brown – Part 3 – ‘It Was Pretty Ugly’

  • According to Patrick Brown, the book was begun in March 2018 and finished before the election in June 2018, all while Brown was still being paid a $116K salary to represent the people of Simcoe North. According to Hansard, Brown did not show up for a single vote at Queen’s Park in 2018.

    Between April 1, 2018 and June 7, 2018, just over two months into the fiscal year, Patrick Brown managed to empty $292K out of an MPP’s $299K annual expense budget. The Ontario legislature wasn’t even in session after May 8, 2018.

    Any proceeds from the book ought to be seized to repay the unearned salary Brown collected and the outrageous expenses Brown charged to taxpayers.

  • Bob

    Of interest to the readers, back up a few paragraphs, in Brown’s book “Take Down” and read about Harper’s sage advice to Brown, paraphrasing : “…. to be serious about vetting candidates or it will cause big problems down the road.”

    Ray hit the nail on the head: “Most critically, the vetting of candidates to weed out the criminals, liars and weirdos had to be contracted out, slowing down the process even more, particularly when there were issues of accuracy and honesty.”

    The point being, if you had selective memory loss, and forgot that you had been in bankruptcy on at least a couple of occasions – what else did you forget.

  • Hans

    I was very surprised to see Doug Ford described as “charismatic”. “Creepy” seems more appropriate.

  • Lynn Crosby

    Then we have Doug Ford’s sudden and last-minute axing of the position of Peel Regional Chair, for which Brown was running last summer, which then caused Brown to instead get his name in at the 11th hour to run for Mayor of Brampton, which he won. Now that Ford has announced he wants to shake up regional government, Brown might wonder whether the plan is to merge Mississauga and Brampton, and somehow Brown will lose out in that scenario too.

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