Skip to main content

Patrick Brown at the Conservative Party of Canada English leadership debate in Edmonton on May 11.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Federal Conservatives are seeking independent legal guidance on how to deal with a request for an appeal of Patrick Brown’s disqualification as a leadership candidate.

Mr. Brown’s lawyer, Marie Henein, had demanded a response by the weekend.

On Monday, Conservative spokesperson Yaroslav Baran said the party is trying to figure out whether it’s possible to hold an appeal in the case of the Brampton, Ont., mayor, who was expelled from the race for what the party called “serious allegations of wrongdoing.” He did not elaborate on why the issue is in doubt.

“Independent counsel has therefore been retained to advise on this important question, which will guide the party’s response to Mr. Brown’s lawyers,” Mr. Baran said in a statement.

Mr. Brown has hired Ms. Henein, whose clients have included former CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi.

On Friday, Ms. Henein and her associate Alex Smith sent a letter to Ian Brodie, the chair of the Conservative Party’s leadership election organizing committee (LEOC), saying they wanted to hear about plans for the appeal process by Saturday at noon.

“It appears that you have taken the time to speak to the media and to send communications out to your membership about your expulsion of Mr. Brown, but you have yet to respond to our July 6 letter regarding Mr. Brown’s appeal,” Ms. Henein and Mr. Smith wrote.

In a pair of statements, Mr. Baran said Mr. Brown’s lawyer has submitted an appeal of the disqualification to the party’s dispute resolution appeals committee (DRAC).

The committee is trying, with help from independent counsel, to determine if it can consider an appeal of a LEOC decision to disqualify a leadership candidate, Mr. Baran said.

“The party is responding to Mr. Brown’s request to involve DRAC in his disqualification in a thoughtful, considered and responsible way,” Mr. Baran said, but did not provide a timeline.

Ms. Henein and associates did not respond to messages on Monday seeking comment.

New details about Mr. Brown’s troubles with the party emerged last week, when long-time party activist Debra Jodoin released a statement saying she informed the Conservative Party that Mr. Brown had encouraged her to work for him while under the auspices of a private company.

She said he was aware a corporation was paying her for campaign work, which is illegal under federal election laws.

The Conservative Party has not revealed details about why it disqualified the Brampton mayor, other than saying campaign financial irregularities were involved.

Mr. Brown’s spokesperson, Chisholm Pothier, has released a letter the campaign sent to the party saying Mr. Brown was prepared to reimburse the company and its owner for any funds involved, thought to be under $10,000.

As a candidate for the Tory leadership, Mr. Brown said he signed up about 150,000 new party members. The 43-year-old former leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives was seen as a formidable organizer, with a commitment to broaden the Conservative base.

Mr. Brown was elected as Brampton mayor in 2018, and would have to register by Aug. 19 to seek a second term.

Mr. Brown’s tweets in recent days have referred to him attending a community multicultural festival, opening a small business and appearing at a community barbecue, among other commitments.

Director of communications Gary Collins said on Monday that Mr. Brown was in his office for the day, meeting with residents and business and community leaders.

His leadership campaign website makes no reference to his disqualification.

The five remaining candidates are Ontario MPs Scott Aitchison, Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre, former Quebec premier Jean Charest, and Roman Baber, a former member of the Ontario Legislature.

Conservative Party members are voting by mail in the race to replace Erin O’Toole, with a victor scheduled to be named in Ottawa on Sept. 10.

For subscribers: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.