The chair of the Conservative’s Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) said the party tried to bring disqualified candidate Patrick Brown into compliance with federal election laws and leadership race rules for nearly a week, but the effort failed.
Brown, the mayor of Brampton, Ont., was disqualified from the leadership race Tuesday. On Thursday evening Debbie Jodoin, a former regional organizer on the Brown campaign, said in a statement through her lawyer that Brown arranged for her to work on his campaign through a third-party company.
In a message to Conservative members Friday morning Ian Brodie, the LEOC chair, divulged details about the party’s communication with the Brown campaign after the committee received information last week that the campaign allegedly violated federal election laws.
“Together with our party’s lawyer, I personally engaged for the better part of a week to find a path for the Patrick Brown campaign to be in compliance with our rules and federal law,” Brodie said in the email.
Brodie said the he and the lawyer met with Brown’s campaign on June 29 to tell them about the allegations and say that the party would require a response to them. He said that the party sent a letter to the Brown campaign the next day requesting a response to the allegations.
The Brown campaign responded on July 1, but the response “did not address our concerns about the violations,” according to Brodie’s email.
The two sides communicated until July 5, the email says, when LEOC decided to disqualify Brown in an 11–6 vote.
“In the spirit of good faith and fairness, the party gave them every opportunity to clarify and resolve their concerns aside. Ultimately that effort failed,” Brodie said.
“To be clear, the Brown campaign knew full well what the allegations were. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply incorrect.”
Brown and his campaign have disputed that the party adequately informed them about the allegations. In a statement Thursday evening, a spokesperson for the Brown campaign said the party failed to conduct itself fairly and transparently while addressing the allegations, and alleged Brown’s disqualification was the result of an effort to thin out the number of candidates.
“The goal was to disqualify Patrick Brown from the leadership race and narrow the field,” the statement reads.
Enforcement agency investigating allegations
The Commissioner of Canada Elections, the office responsible for enforcement and compliance of the Canada Elections Act, confirmed Thursday it had received information regarding the Brown campaign’s alleged violations of the law.
Liberal MP Adam Adam van Koeverden has requested that election officials look into whether the Conservative Party benefited from the Brown campaign’s alleged wrongdoing.
Brodie said Brown could not continue to be a candidate given the gravity and credibility of the allegations.
“LEOC could not afford the risk of having a leadership candidate under the investigation of Elections Canada for breaking federal law — especially one that did not answer the questions we put forward to him to bring him into compliance,” Brodie said.
Brodie said he would like to share all the information the party has on the matter with members, but for legal reasons can’t right now.
Five candidates remain in the Conservative leadership race. The party will announce the new leader in September.