Patrick Brown candidate for the head of the conservatives

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BRAMPTON, Ont. — Patrick Brown has officially joined the federal Conservative leadership race, with the promise of healing the rifts that have erupted within the party in recent years.

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Brown, 43, launched his campaign in Brampton, Ont., where he has served as mayor since 2018.

He took the stage at the Queen’s Manor Event Center with his wife, Genevieve, and their two children on Sunday as the crowd chanted his name.

Brown’s speech launched a campaign that offers a bigger voice for caucus members and a bigger conservative tent.

“I want people who have never voted Conservative and who have voted for other parties to feel welcome in our family,” Brown told the crowd on Sunday.

Brown, known within the party as a hard-working organizer, is the fifth candidate to enter the Conservative leadership race, already populated by former federal Progressive Conservative leader Jean Charest and Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre. . Ontario rookie MLA Leslyn Lewis and independent Ontario MLA Roman Baber are also in the running.

Brown’s political roots run deep in Brampton, and it’s a part of the country where Conservatives know they need to build support if they hope to form government.

He promised to do so without sacrificing seats in the West or rural Canada, and suggested that the party should stop treating Conservative members in the West “like an ATM and start winning election victories”.

In his speech, Brown addressed the main concern raised about his candidacy by party members: his support for carbon pricing when he was leader of the Progressive Conservatives in Ontario.

Many party members reject carbon pricing as an inefficient “tax,” including Poilievre, who has pledged to repeal the federal consumer carbon price and attacked Brown for supporting the policy.

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Just before Brown announced his candidacy for the leadership, Poilievre’s team launched an attack ad with the slogan “Patrick Brown says and does anything,” highlighting his inconsistent stance on environmental policy.

“Past attempts by Conservative parties in Canada to fight climate change, including the one I led, were not carried out in consultation with our members or our caucus,” he said.

“Believe me from experience, I can certainly agree that this is not the right approach.”

He said that if elected leader, the party would collectively decide its environmental policy.

“I am confident that together we can find a winning position, a position that addresses climate change and respects provincial jurisdictions, energy security, energy workers, while keeping life affordable,” said he declared.

Brown recently penned a letter asking Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to forgo a planned April 1 hike, citing gas prices and other affordability issues.

Brown also argued for rebuilding trust with Canada’s “cultural communities,” a voter base that inhabits the nation’s largest cities and suburbs and whose support Conservatives must win if they hope to win the next election.

Brown’s speech touted his opposition to Quebec’s Bill 21, a controversial secularism law in that province that prohibits public officials in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols at work.

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As mayor of Brampton, Brown spearheaded a plan for cities to pledge money to help fund a legal challenge to the law.

He also condemned Conservative promises of a barbaric cultural practices hotline and a niqab ban in the 2015 election as an attempt to stifle religious freedoms and normalize intolerance. These policies are why the Conservatives lost this race against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he said.

Brown’s turbulent political career has been defined by its ups and downs.

Born in Toronto, he was a young Conservative who, in 2000, was elected as a city councilor in Barrie, Ontario. From there, he became an MP in the government of former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Brown left federal politics after winning the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in 2015, where he served as the province’s leader of the opposition until 2018.

A few months after an election – at a time when the Liberal government had spent more than a decade in power – in January 2018, CTV published allegations of sexual misconduct by two women against Brown.

The allegations have not been proven in court and have not been independently verified by The Canadian Press. Brown has long denied them.

But after initially promising to stay on, Brown resigned the next day and within weeks was kicked out of the caucus.

He then ran for mayor of Brampton, Ontario, and was elected in October 2018. He has held that position ever since.

Last week, Brown and CTV resolved a years-long libel lawsuit he launched after the 2018 story.

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In his Sunday speech, he offered the controversy as an example of his fighting spirit.

“When the media tried to get me to nullify the latest culture casualty by smearing me with false allegations, I fought back and won,” he said, to cheers from the crowd.

A statement released by the broadcaster and Brown said CTV regrets certain factual inaccuracies in their original story. The statement did not specify what those inaccuracies were, and a CTV spokesperson declined to elaborate.

The original article includes a correction that updates the age of one of the two women who accused Brown of sexual misconduct.

The news network said no money was exchanged in the settlement.

The Conservatives will find out who their new leader is on September 10. Candidates have until June 3 to sign up new members and until April 19 to declare they are running.

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