Brown rejects allegations, suggests decision made to benefit Pierre Poilievre
With two months to go before the Conservative Party chooses its next leader, Patrick Brown has been ejected from the race over allegations he broke financing rules.
However Brown quickly fired back, saying in a statement early Wednesday that his disqualification is unfounded and an attempt to ensure his rival Pierre Poilievre wins the race.
The bombshell news came in a statement released late Tuesday night from the party's leadership election organizing committee, which said Brown was being disqualified from the race after "serious allegations of wrongdoing" related to financing rules.
"We regret having to take these steps but we have an obligation to ensure that both our party's rules and federal law are respected by all candidates and campaign teams," said the statement from Ian Brodie, head of the Conservative Party's Leadership Election Organizing Committee, which oversees the race.
Those involved did their best to be fair to Brown and his campaign and give them time to substantively refute the allegations, he added.
Statement from the Brown campaign. <a href="https://t.co/gzgpu1yeuB">pic.twitter.com/gzgpu1yeuB</a>
"None of these problems has any impact on the integrity of the vote itself," Brodie said.
The party will share the information it has with Elections Canada, he added.
Brown says allegations unfounded
Brown's campaign shot back, saying it only learned of the decision to eject him through the media.
In a statement, the campaign said the the allegations against Brown are anonymous and the campaign was never provided with full details of the allegations. However, the statement said the campaign still attempted to respond to the party's questions and claims.
Brown's campaign suggested the "reprehensible, undemocratic behaviour" of disqualifying him was done to benefit the race's presumed front-runner.
Interim Conservative leader: 'I have no doubt that once the race is over, we will all come together'
Asked about the defection of two MPs from Patrick Brown to Pierre Poilievre's team, Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen says she knows that candidates will run a good race and, in the end, the party will stand united behind its new leader.
"Why is the party doing this? It was expecting a coronation for Pierre Poilievre," said the Brown campaign statement.
"When the final membership numbers came in, it became clear Poilievre did not have the points to win this race," the statement said.
"The attempt to silence Canadians and skirt democratic values through this unfounded disqualification is the only way to ensure his victory was secured."
The statement said the disqualification is "an embarrassment," suggesting the party is not serious about winning a general election. It added it would consult its legal team.
Brown will still appear on ballot: source
A Conservative source familiar with leadership election organizing committee, who is not authorized to speak publicly about internal party matters, told CBC News late Tuesday that Brown's name will still be on the ballot.
The source said that the hundreds of thousands of ballots required to carry out this race have already been printed and stuffed into envelopes, ready to be sent out to party members ahead of the September vote.
The source said the party will likely follow the same process it did in 2017 when Kevin O'Leary pulled out of that leadership race after the ballots had already been sent out. On the ballots where people marked Brown as their first choice, party officials will instead only count the candidates from their second choices onwards.
The source said the party is confident that, even with this late elimination, there is no threat to the integrity of the vote. The party already conducted an extensive review of the membership list and weeded out several thousand would-be voters late last month, the source said.
The news of Brown's ejection is a major upset in an already tumultuous race filled with personal barbs.
Brown, who is currently the mayor of Brampton, Ont, has run under the slogan "fighter, leader, winner" and has relentlessly attacked Poilievre.
Brown has already dealt with turmoil in his political career, which included time as a federal MP and three years as leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives.
Race has raised interested in Conservative Party
He resigned as Ontario Progressive Conservative leader only months before the 2018 election, when CTV News reported on two sexual misconduct allegations against him.
CTV later settled a defamation suit with Brown and acknowledged "key details" in its initial reporting were factually incorrect and required correction.
Brown was one of six contenders for the leadership.
While sharp attacks have been one of the defining qualities of the race to replace Erin O'Toole as leader, the race has also generated a lot of interest in the Conservative Party.
Last week the party announced approximately 675,000 people had signed up to choose the new leader.
The results of this leadership race are expected to be announced Sept 10 in Ottawa.
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