The federal Conservative leadership race just got more interesting after Brampton’s mayor threw his hat into the ring on Sunday.
Patrick Brown launched his campaign in the city where he has been mayor since 2018.
He walked on stage at the Queen’s Manor Event Centre with his wife, Genevieve, and their two children.
“We need a leader that can build the broad, multicultural, multi-faith, values-driven coalition necessary to win in the areas where we keep losing without compromising on what it means to be a Conservative or letting down those in our party who have been members for years. That leader is me,” Brown told the crowd that was chanting his name.
The 43-year-old promised to heal fractures in the party and to lead a Conservative breakthrough in the GTA.
Brown said, “With me there will be no safe Liberal seats anywhere.”
“I want people who have never voted Conservative, and voted for other parties to feel welcome in our family,” he added.
Brown said he was all for supporting religious freedoms and opposed controversial Bill 21 in Quebec.
A day later he issued a statement attacking fellow contestant MP Pierre Poilievre.
“Pierre Poilievre supported two discriminatory policies from the 2015 Conservative Party election campaign; the niqab ban and the barbaric cultural practices tipline. He has never once spoken out against these policies, Brown said in the statement.
“I have always proudly fought against these incursions on religious freedom – as well as Bill 21. I have never shied away from fighting against intolerance and never will. Every Canadian leader should feel the same way.
“Conservatives need a leader who will fight for religious freedom and stand against intolerance, all the time, every time, because it is quite frankly the right thing to do. I’ve already proven that leader is me.”
Brown is the fifth person to enter the Conservative leadership race.
Former federal PC leader Jean Charest, and MPs Pierre Poilievre, Leslyn Lewis, and Roman Baber had already announced their candidacy.
Brown’s political career began when he served on the Barrie City Council in the early 2000s. From 2006 until 2015, he was a federal Conservative Member of Parliament representing the riding of Barrie.
Brown won leadership of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party in 2015 and became the Leader of the Official Opposition Party. However he resigned in January 2018 when CTV published allegations of sexual misconduct from two women against him. Brown has denied them and they have also not been proven in court.
After he was kicked out of caucus, he ran for mayor of Brampton in October 2018 and has remained in the role since.
Last week, Brown and CTV resolved the defamation lawsuit he launched after the 2018 story.
In his speech Sunday, he offered the controversy as an example of his fighting spirit.
A statement released by the broadcaster and Brown said CTV regrets some factual inaccuracies their original story contained. The statement did not specify what those inaccuracies were.