A Conservative committee reviewing Patrick Brown’s disqualification from the leadership race has concluded the party had the evidence it needed to recommend he be removed from contention.
Its decision, released late Friday, contains new allegations Brown used money orders to purchase memberships and allowed non-compliant membership sales through a portal.
“Mr. Brown was afforded ample opportunity to address these serious concerns,” Ian Brodie, chair of the party’s leadership election organizing committee, said in a statement.
The party says decisions made by its dispute resolution appeals committee are final.
The committee stunned party members and Canadians alike earlier this month when it voted 11-6 to remove Brown from the race. Brown has since launched his campaign for re-election as mayor of Brampton, Ont.
Brown hired Marie Henein, one of Canada’s best-known defence lawyers, who filed a notice of appeal of the decision to oust him. The party then hired an outside lawyer to review that appeal request, and was bracing for additional legal action.
The party said the decision to disqualify Brown was based on a recommendation from its chief returning officer. A dispute resolution appeals committee had to decide whether the officer possessed the evidence to recommend his removal.
It says evidence included allegations Brown allowed more than 500 non-compliant membership sales.
“Correspondence on this issue from the candidate indicates both an unwillingness and an inability to provide the (chief returning officer) with information about the individuals who were accessing the portal to register memberships the (party) had found to be non-compliant,” the decision says.
It said Brown left the issue unresolved for two weeks and gave “evasive responses.”
In a statement Friday, Brown’s campaign called the ruling unjust and “an affront to democracy.”
“Also in their ruling the party has significantly changed their story on why they disallowed Patrick Brown as a candidate, now that their first story has fallen apart,” his campaign office said. “Originally the party was telling the media it was because of improper corporate donations, which have since been found to be bogus claims. Now the party is saying, in their ruling, that the reason was because they received 500 suspicious memberships … and claim, without any evidence or supporting documentation, that the memberships were brought in by the Patrick Brown campaign.”
Brown is to continue to pursue legal action, the statement said.
“This is absurd and makes clear this was a rigged race from the start to install their chosen candidate, Pierre Poilievre, as leader.”
The decision also addresses an allegation that Brown may have broken federal election law, which was brought to the party by a whistleblower.
After Brown’s ousting, Debbie Jodoin, a longtime organizer with the party, came forward as the one who spoke up, alleging Brown arranged for a third-party corporation to pay her to work on his campaign.
Brown has denied wrongdoing and said the party didn’t provide his campaign enough details for him to properly respond.
In its decision, the dispute committee says the party offered Brown a chance to provide exculpatory evidence. “He did not,” the decision says.
“Instead, the candidate offered the explanation of an innocent mistake and an offer to reimburse any implicated corporation expenses. That is an excuse, not exculpatory evidence.”
The decision says the party considered the allegations Brown faced, and also the way he responded.
When it came to issues surrounding money orders, the dispute committee says the party received 78 money orders attached to membership forms that appeared to come from the same person.
The decision says Brown told the party he raised the issue with the individual in question, who said the allegation was false.
It says the party was left with information that Brown’s campaign had improperly bought memberships.
“When confronted with this evidence, the candidate chose simply to deny the allegation without providing any satisfactory explanation,” the decision says.
By Stephanie Taylor