Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown resigned early Thursday morning after sexual misconduct charges rocked the province’s official opposition, the Canadian Press reports.
Brown, who has moved his party to the same political position as the governing Liberals, is hugely unpopular with many social and fiscal conservatives; nonetheless, he was expected to win the next provincial election and become premier.
Although Brown ran for the leadership of the Ontario Conservatives as a pro-life social conservative, he has since announced his public support for abortion and marched in Toronto’s gay pride parade.
According to CTV News, two women have accused Brown of sexual misconduct, dating from his time as a federal Member of Parliament in the previous Conservative government. One woman says Brown asked her for oral sex while she was a high school student. The second accuser alleges Brown sexually assaulted her when she was a university student. CTV News says it has seen messages between Brown and the two women.
Brown “categorically” denies what he terms “troubling allegations.” He was reluctant to step down as leader but agreed to do after he found little to no support from his caucus. After saying “these allegations are false and have been difficult to hear,” Brown said he was resigning in order for the party to focus on defeating current Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“I can’t speculate on the motive of my accusers, I can only say that what they are saying is categorically untrue,” Brown asserted.
For her part, Wynne said nothing about Brown’s political future but noted on Twitter that it “is a difficult and brave thing to do to come forward in the way these young women have done tonight.”