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PC Party focusing on finding a new leader and election campaign in the wake of Patrick Brown's resignation

By Anthony Dixon, The Daily Observer

Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski

Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski

Despite the resignation of its leader amid allegations of sexual misconduct, the Ontario PC Party remains focused on the upcoming provincial election, now just months away.

“Our caucus will immediately consult with party officials and members on the best way to move forward to defeat the Wynne Liberals during the 2018 general election,” said Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski in a statement released to the media on Thursday morning. “We will not be diverted from our mission to ensure our strong team can share our message of change,”

Ontario’s Opposition leader, Patrick Brown, had announced earlier that day that he was stepping down as party leader, but not as MP. On Wednesday, allegations of sexual misconduct levelled at him had prompted calls for his resignation. At a news conference late Wednesday night, Brown “categorically” denied the allegations and said he would defend himself in the court of law. According to the Canadian Press, he intends to stay on as a member of the provincial legislature while defending against the allegations.

“Yesterday evening the Ontario PC Caucus learned of disturbing allegations against Patrick Brown,” Yakabuski said in a news release. “In the interest of the Ontario PC Party, it was unanimously agreed that Mr. Brown could not continue to serve as the leader.
“Mr. Brown is entitled to a legal defence and due process, but he cannot lead the PC Party into an election as a result of these allegations.”

Yakabuski, the party whip and labour and training critic, said that the Ontario PC Party unequivocally upholds the principle that a safe and respectful society is what Ontarians expect and deserve.

“We need to move forward to eradicate sexual violence and harassment across the province,” Yakabuski said.

CTV News reported that two women have come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Brown dating back to when he was a federal MP. The broadcaster did not name the women.

With the June 7 date for the 42nd Ontario general election looming, the party’s immediate focus is on finding a new leader to replace Brown, and to take on Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne during the campaign.

Names being speculated upon in the media as a replacement for the PC leader are Lisa McLeod, Christine Elliott and Caroline Mulroney.

The party’s press secretary has also announced that he is leaving his post.

With files from the Canadian Press

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