Patrick Brown steps down as party leader, denies 'troubling allegations'
Published Wednesday, January 24, 2018 10:05PM EST Last Updated Thursday, January 25, 2018 2:39AM EST
UPDATE: Ontario's Opposition leader is stepping down amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Patrick Brown made the announcement in a written statement issued just hours after calling a hastily-called news conference at the Ontario legislature where he "categorically" denied what he called "troubling allegations" against him.
But in his statement, issued at around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Brown said that after consulting with caucus, family and friends, he has decided to "step down as leader" but would stay on as MPP to clear his name.
He said "these allegations are false and have been difficult to hear" and that defeating Premier Kathleen Wynne in the upcoming provincial election is "more important than one individual."
More to come...
TORONTO -- Ontario's Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown is "categorically" denying what he describes as "troubling allegations" about his conduct and his character, saying he will defend himself in the court of law.
A visibly emotional Brown said late Wednesday that he was made aware of the allegations hours earlier, but did not provide details on what those allegations are.
CTV News tweeted that two women have come forward with graphic sexual misconduct allegations against Brown. The broadcaster said the alleged incidents date back to when Brown was a federal MP.
"These allegations are false. Every one of them," Brown said at a late-night news conference at the legislature.
"I can't speculate on the motive of my accusers, I can only say that what they are saying is categorically untrue."
Brown said he has instructed his lawyers to ensure that the allegations are addressed in court.
The leader of the Opposition noted that "it's never OK" for anyone to feel they have been a victim of sexual harassment or feel threatened in any way.
"I reject these accusation in the strongest possible terms," Brown said. "This is not how I'm raised. This is not who I am."
He did not take questions from reporters and left immediately after making his statement.
Brown had been leading in the polls as the province heads to the polls this summer.
He was first elected as federal MP in 2006 as part of the Conservative government after serving as a Barrie city councillor. He was re-elected twice, once in 2008 and again in 2011.
During his time in Ottawa, Brown served as a backbench MP in Stephen Harper's government and has been frequently criticized by political opponents for voting in favour of reopening the abortion debate.
He won the PC leadership in 2015, beating long-time Ontario legislator and favourite Christine Elliott.
Since he has become party leader, Brown has attempted to broaden the appeal of his the party, going as far as to say social conservative issues were off-limits at the PC policy convention last fall.
Brown says he is pro-choice and more recently has led Pride parade delegations.
Here is some online reaction from Queen's Park:
It's a difficult and brave thing to do to come forward in the way these young women have done tonight. My government and I have been clear on the issue of sexual harassment and assault. In fact our policy and our ad were called "It's Never Okay".— Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne) January 25, 2018
Having learned of these allegations earlier this evening, I have made the decision to join my colleagues and friends by stepping aside from the campaign in my role as Deputy Campaign Manager. https://t.co/9w3LZsJ0Qr— Joshua Workman (@JAW_80) January 25, 2018