Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton, Ont., and a former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, is considering a run for the leadership of the federal Conservatives subject to the rules of the competition, says a city spokesperson.
Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre is the only declared candidate in the race to succeed Erin O’Toole, but former Quebec premier Jean Charest is also mulling a leadership bid depending on the timing of the vote and other rules now being formulated by a party committee.
“Mayor Brown has been inundated with phone calls from MPs, MPPs, senators, municipal officials, party activists, cultural and faith community leaders to consider the federal Conservative leadership,” Gary Collins, communications director for the City of Brampton, said in a statement to The Globe and Mail.
“He feels it is premature to even consider it until we know the rules and the timeframe for the race.”
Mr. Collins said Mr. Brown is not shirking his responsibilities as mayor of the third-largest city in the Greater Toronto area while considering a move to seek another political job.
“The mayor continues to be focused on municipal issues. He is at City Hall every day,” Mr. Collins wrote, adding there is support from Brampton residents for Mr. Brown, first elected in the city in 2018, to stay on as mayor. The next Brampton municipal election is this October.
Mr. Brown, a 43-year-old married father of two young children, was previously a city councillor in Barrie, Ont., then a Conservative MP for the city from 2006 until 2015 when he was elected leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.
In January, 2018, he resigned as leader of the PC party amid allegations of sexual misconduct that he has strenuously denied. Eventually, he ran for the mayoralty of Brampton, beating an incumbent to become mayor in October, 2018.
Details of the Conservative leadership race, including the timing of a convention, are now being developed by a 21-member leadership election organizing committee. When such a committee was last assembled in 2019, it took a about a month to draft the rules.
The Conservative caucus voted 73 to 45 on Feb. 2 to remove Mr. O’Toole as leader, capping tensions between Mr. O’Toole and some caucus members. Candice Bergen is the party’s interim leader.
A source active in federal Conservative politics and familiar with Mr. Brown’s situation said appeals to the mayor from various groups, including members of the federal Conservative caucus, are based on several factors.
These include the mayor’s demonstrated capability to win in the Greater Toronto Area, appeal to ethnic communities, and advance a practical Conservative approach around lockdowns and vaccine mandates.
Mr. Brown has been praised for his approach to such pandemic issues as sick pay and other issues. His handling of COVID-19 is especially relevant in Peel Region, where Brampton is located, which has been one of the areas of the province hardest hit by the pandemic.
The source also said one argument being made to Mr. Brown is that he is a positive alternative to Mr. Poilievre. While the former finance critic has been successful at attacking the federal Liberal government, and plays well to a portion of the party’s activist base, the source says the case being made to Mr. Brown is that Mr. Poilievre would not resonate in urban and suburban Canada.
The Globe and Mail is not identifying the source because they were not authorized to publicly discuss leadership matters involving Mr. Brown.
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