TORONTO – Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown will not be eligible to run in the riding he was nominated in for the province’s June 7 election, the party’s provincial nominations committee said late Thursday.
The committee said in a statement that it reached a “unanimous decision” that Brown will not be able to run in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.
The announcement comes as Brown, who stepped down as leader in January amid sexual misconduct allegations that he denies, will not be running in the spring election after “much thought.”
“I remain committed to the Conservative movement and to the well-being of my local community,” Brown said in a tweet Thursday night.
“I am confident that Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte will have a PC party candidate that will hit the ground running and work hard on behalf of our constituents. Thank you to the people of Barrie and Simcoe County for your unwavering support over the last 17 years.”
Brown’s resignation plunged the Conservatives into turmoil, forcing the party into a chaotic leadership race and infighting.
Last month, he briefly tried to reclaim his old job hours after being kicked out of the Tory caucus. He then bowed out of the leadership race about a week later, saying his bid was taking a toll on family and friends.
After a turbulent party convention on March 10, the Conservatives selected former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford as Brown’s successor.
Ford said in a statement Thursday night that he was “pleased” by the provincial nominations committee’s decision to bar Brown from running in the central Ontario riding.
“As leader, I am fully focused on the June election and taking the fight to (Premier) Kathleen Wynne,” Ford said. “Together we will ensure that we are in the best position possible to defeat the Wynne Liberals and form a majority government.”
Party president Jag Badwal said the committee also agreed to reopen nominations in three ridings: Brampton North, Mississauga Centre and Newmarket-Aurora.
The committee also set aside the nomination in the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas “as a result of the flawed process,” Badwal said in a statement.
The Ontario Conservatives has been dogged by controversial nomination battles in ridings across the province, including allegations of vote-stuffing in races near Hamilton and Ottawa.
In the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, police are investigating the PC nomination.