Article by Mike Crawley, CBC News
Patrick Brown stepped down as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario early Thursday, only hours after denying allegations of sexual misconduct.
“These allegations are false and have been difficult to hear,” said Brown in a statement issued just before 1:30 a.m. ET.
“However, defeating [Ontario Premier] Kathleen Wynne in 2018 is more important than one individual. For this reason, after consulting with caucus, friends and family I have decided to step down as Leader of the Ontario PC Party. I will remain on as a MPP while I definitively clear my name from these false allegations.”
The allegations and the resignation leave the Ontario PCs in turmoil and without a leader, with the provincial election scheduled for June 7.
Brown called a snap news conference at the provincial legislature on Wednesday night to deny the allegations, calling them “categorically untrue.”
The conference came just ahead of a CTV News report detailing allegations by two women dating back to when Brown was a federal MP.
CBC News has not independently confirmed the allegations.
In an appearance only about a minute long, a visibly distressed Brown said he had learned about the allegations a couple of hours earlier.
“I want to say: These allegations are false. Every one of them,” he said. “I will defend myself as hard as I can, with all the means at my disposal.
“I know that the court of public opinion moves fast. I have instructed my attorneys to ensure that these allegations are addressed where they should be: in a court of law.”
Brown stood alone at a podium during the news conference, walked briskly away without taking questions and left in a waiting vehicle.
The pressure on Brown to resign ramped up immediately. His top three campaign staff quit, saying they had urged Brown to step down, but he had refused. Then his caucus members held a conference call, during which MPPs demanded Brown resign.