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Canada Ontario PCs overturn nominations, bar former leader Patrick Brown from running as candidate

Patrick Brown has been barred from running as a candidate for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in the upcoming provincial election.

The PC Party announced on Thursday evening that Mr. Brown will not be an eligible candidate. The party also announced that new nomination races will be held in three ridings and that the results will be set aside in a fourth one plagued by allegations of ballot-box stuffing.

The announcements came five days after former Toronto councillor Doug Ford succeeded Mr. Brown as leader of the party. Mr. Ford had pledged to reopen many of the nomination races that ended in controversy.

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The provincial nomination committee unanimously decided at a meeting on Thursday to bar Mr. Brown from running and to hold the new nomination races.

“I am pleased to learn of the decisions made by the provincial nomination committee,” Mr. Ford said in a statement.

No reason was given for rejecting the candidacy of Mr. Brown, who was planning on running for the Tories in the new riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. But the decision follows a tumultuous period for the PC Party after Mr. Brown’s resignation as leader in January amid allegations of sexual misconduct with two women. He has denied the allegations but he was also kicked out of the Tory caucus in February, leaving him sitting as an independent member in the legislature.

“After much thought, I will not be running in the upcoming provincial election,” Mr. Brown tweeted. One of the nominations that has been overturned is in the riding of Brampton North, where paralegal Jass Johal was acclaimed as the candidate in November, 2016.

The Globe and Mail has reported that Mr. Brown was in talks with Mr. Johal to sell him Aeroplan miles and a stake in a restaurant for $375,000. The talks took place just five months before Mr. Johal was acclaimed in Brampton North.

The Globe also reported that $375,000 was deposited into Mr. Brown’s personal bank account in July, 2016, a month after Mr. Johal signed an affidavit regarding the proposed deal involving the Aeroplan miles and shares in Hooligans, a restaurant in Barrie partly owned by Mr. Brown. That same month, Mr. Brown purchased a waterfront home on Lake Simcoe’s Shanty Bay for $2.3-million.

Mr. Brown has told The Globe that the deal with Mr. Johal never went through and that his family helped with the down payment on his house. Ontario’s integrity watchdog is conducting an investigation into Mr. Brown’s financial affairs, including the house purchase. Lisa Thompson, a Tory MPP and member of the provincial nomination committee, cited the continuing investigation as the reason for overturning the nomination in Brampton North.

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The other ridings where new nominations will be held are Newmarket-Aurora and Mississauga Centre.

Of the 56 competitive nomination races the PC Party held during Mr. Brown’s leadership, nearly one in four ended in controversy. The tally excludes 14 ridings where candidates were acclaimed.

Two other nominations in Ottawa West-Nepean and Scarborough Centre were earlier overturned by interim leader Vic Fedeli.

The party announced on Thursday that it is setting aside the results in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas because of the “irregularities in the nomination meeting.”

Vikram Singh, a lawyer and runner-up in the nomination race last May, sued the PC Party, alleging that widespread ballot-box stuffing torpedoed his bid. But he announced on Jan. 24 in a joint statement with Mr. Brown that he was withdrawing his lawsuit. However, there is a continuing criminal investigation into allegations of fraud at the nomination meeting.

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