He was a politician with a fondness for younger women. He was around 40 years old and not yet married. He was the quintessential womanizer, playboy and player. A bit of a sex scoundrel, really. No, I’m not talking about former Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown, but former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Justin’s dad.
Back in the heydays, not only was the senior Trudeau not damaged by his dalliances, but he was celebrated as a man’s man, partly leading to Trudeaumania.
But in 2018, two anonymous stories by women dating back many years ago lead to the incredible fall of Brown, poised to be the next premier.
Notwithstanding the overwhelming condemnation of Brown’s “sex scandal” as “horrific,” “despicable,” and “horrible,” he committed no crime. Not even close. The two encounters, if true and taken to their highest level, qualify at best as kind of a couple of bad dates.
In the first incident, a Barrie high school student was drunk at a bar when Brown invited her to his house and asked her for oral sex. She agreed and then left.
The second incident involved a university student Brown met on a plane. He invited her to Barrie bars where he might be later that night and offered to help her skip lineups to get in. She ignored his invite but contacted him months later looking for a summer job. They attended a charity event she’d organized and eventually ended up at his house while drunk. He started to kiss her. She told him to stop. Brown did so and drove her back home.
If this were the early 1970s and Brown’s part was played by Trudeau senior, he would have been ridiculed for having lost his magical touch by not “closing the deal.” Maybe Trudeaumania would even have come to a screeching halt. But this being 2018, Brown was dead in the water. Ruined forever and run out of town. Now the PCs want him out of caucus.
I don’t blame the Progressive Conservatives for having pushed Brown out of his leadership position. A political party’s existence is to win power. The PCs have bungled the last two elections. They are frisky and could hardly risk it all over this – however unfair the whole thing is to Brown.
The new leader is MPP Vic Fedeli, elected by caucus.
Moments after selecting him, the powerful PC brass decided that he was merely an “interim” leader. They decided to cram a convention in before the big vote so that the 200,000 rank and file PCs get to pick the next leader before the election. It’s a big mistake that might end in yet another electoral defeat for the PCs.
Lawyer Caroline Mulroney and former CivicAction head Rod Philips appear to be behind the push for a convention but many more holding PC nominations also petitioned the executive to do so.
But conventions are polarizing events and it takes time to re-unite a party wounded by friendly fire. With about 130 days before the election, the PCs don’t have time on their side.
Suppose, for example, that a candidate at a convention proposes to reverse the new minimum wage while a competing candidate pushes the status quo. The Liberals would jump all over it. Get ready for Liberal ads: “The PCs are political opportunists. They don’t know where they stand on anything. You can’t trust them. They have a secret agenda.”
As it stands, the PCs have a platform developed through party consultations. It’s smack in the middle of the political spectrum and a winning formula. With Fedeli in charge, victory is back in the cards. With a PC convention, all bets are off.