Now mayor of Brampton, he says he can win the suburbs for Tories
Federal Conservative leadership candidate Patrick Brown stopped in Niagara-on-the-Lake last weekend to stake his claim as the only Tory who can beat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“One of the reasons the Conservative party has been unable to win in the last three federal elections is they can’t win in the GTA. They lost in suburban Canada quite badly,” Brown said in an interview with The Lake Report.
Brown said he has demonstrated a clear ability to win in the Greater Toronto Area and in Canada's suburbs, noting his victory in the mayoral race in what he called the “Liberal fortress” of Brampton.
In 2018, Brown beat incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey in Brampton. Jeffrey served four years and is a member of the Liberal party.
Before her, Susan Fennell was mayor for 14 years. She was an independent but former member of the Progressive Conservative party.
The city has traditionally leaned Liberal and New Democratic in federal and provincial elections, though several Conservative MPs and MPPs have served terms in Brampton's various ridings.
Brown’s short tenure as mayor of Brampton has not been without controversy.
In a scathing 2019 provincial ombudsman’s report, “Inside Job,” several officials from the Region of Niagara were sharply criticized for corrupt hiring practices.
David Barrick and Jason Tamming, both implicated in the report, were later hired under Brown as the chief administrator and head of communications, respectively, for the City of Brampton.
In February of this year, six of Brampton’s city councillors signed an open letter declaring democracy in the city to be “under siege” by Brown and asking for an ombudsman’s investigation into city affairs during his tenure.
Barrick and Tamming have since been fired.
Brown defended the hirings to The Lake Report.
“The mayor doesn’t hire any staff. It’s council,” Brown said.
“We hired an individual by an 11 to zero vote. He did quite well in our interview process and council was impressed.”
“At the end of the day, we as a council offered him a letter of recommendation. He did some good work for us during that time.”
The Pointer, a Brampton-based news and investigative journalism website, has done extensive reporting on Brown's tenure as mayor and the roles played by Barrick, Tamming and others in his municipal administration.
At Saturday's gathering, Brown noted his strength in Liberal areas lies in his desire to build a “multi-faith, multicultural coalition based on conservative values,” and his fiscally conservative and socially liberal approach to politics.
“I’m the only candidate in the race with a proven track record able to do that,” Brown told The Lake Report.
Brown resigned as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party in 2018 amid accusations of sexual misconduct by two women.
That led to a years-long legal battle with CTV, which originally reported the allegations.
The suit was settled last month, with no money changing hands, but CTV changed some of the details in its stories and apologized to Brown while at the same time defending its reporting on the accusations.
Brown socialized with potential supporters in a barn on Line 3 Road on Saturday morning and about 60 people turned out to hear this message. One man asked Brown how he planned on winning with these allegations potentially dogging him.
“I pushed back and I won,” Brown replied.
“I think Canadians want someone who will stand up for themselves. I think Canadians want someone that will show resilience in adversity.”
One of Brown’s main gripes with federal Liberal leadership has been what he calls a lack of vision for Canada’s energy sector.
“We face a challenge on energy sovereignty, inability for the government to build a national energy corridor speaks to a failure in the country.”
Brown said there is no reason why European countries such as Germany should need to be reliant on Russian oil when Canada has the resources to supplement their needs.
He said he would also embrace green sustainable technologies, noting former premier Bill Davis told him it is important to “focus on the jobs of tomorrow.”
Brown proclaimed his desire to fight for religious freedom in Canada, noting his push to get “Merry Christmas” displayed on Brampton's buses.
He also wants to make Canada a more attractive place for international business investment, saying the country's current sales pitch is, “Come to Canada. We have more regulatory burdens than other countries. Come to Canada. We have more taxes than other countries.”
Brown also addressed the affordable housing crisis in Canada, which he referred to as a problem of supply and demand exacerbated by federal economic mismanagement.
“In Brampton, for every new home that is built we have 10 people wanting to buy it. Government overregulation has diminished our capacity to be competitive,” he told The Lake Report.
He blamed excessive regulations for delaying building permits.
Brown also said no government has a “magic solution to (the housing problem).”
He attacked federal spending and pledged to run the government like a small business if he is elected.
“You just have to be frugal and careful and justify the dollars that are spent,” he said.