But a right to due process in politics? That has never been a thing.
Twenty-five years ago, fewer people might have seen anything particularly egregious about Brown’s sexual conduct per se. But many would certainly have thought the whole scenario very sleazy and unbecoming. At no point in history could the Tories have done anything in a situation like this except pitch Brown over the side. You can’t fight an election when one of your leader’s primary attributes is “not criminally charged … yet,” and when you don’t know what more might be coming down the pipe.
“What happened to Brown is fundamentally wrong. Every man in the world is now vulnerable,” read a National Post headline. “Patrick Brown’s downfall is an affront to fairness,” echoed a column in the Toronto Star.
Criminality has never been the standard by which we judge our fellow human beings, including our elected representatives, and nor should it be.
But they are precisely the sorts of often silly, unfair, perhaps totally misguided little whims that can turn people off politicians.
As for those who consider the timing to constitute a hit job? For the sake of argument, let’s say it is. A remarkable number of Tory insiders are now admitting that they had heard these rumours, just like (almost) everybody in the press corps had. If the Tories’ vetting process had been worth half a damn, Patrick Brown should never have been leader in the first place. Supporters should thank their lucky stars they have time to regroup and find a properly vetted replacement through a proper (if hurried) leadership campaign.
These would all be bad reasons for a bank to deny Patrick Brown a loan, or for a taxi driver to deny him a ride, or for a company to fire him from a job in the legal department.
It’s widely accepted that Robert Stanfield’s 1974 campaign was materially harmed by his dropping of a football. John Tory’s principled stance in favour of funding religious schools in Ontario besides Catholic ones sent the Tories’ 2007 campaign rolling downhill onto a pier that then collapsed into a lake. People still can’t believe Hillary Clinton’s emails might have cost her the presidency.
In short, there is no justice in politics. Morons win, geniuses lose, people get screwed who don’t deserve it. So it has been very strange to see some commentators and correspondents portray Brown as having been horribly hard done by in the aftermath of two women’s allegations of sexual assault and coercion at his hands.
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Jian Ghomeshi is clearly an ogre. O.J. Simpson is almost certainly a murderer. Mike Duffy is an eel. Laura Miller, Dalton McGuinty’s former deputy chief of staff, was not doing the Lord’s work on the gas plant emails file. All were exonerated in court, but individual Canadians are still free to hear the ring of truth in the allegations against them. Those against Brown, which are backed by photos and text messages, have that same ring.
As party leader, Brown could turf from caucus any MPP who displeased him — as he turfed Jack MacLaren after a spree of idiocies. Every four years, his and all his fellow MPPs’ job prospects rest in the hands of the voters. That’s assuming they pass a party review that considers criteria as vague as “any ethical questions or concerns,” and assuming the leader is willing to sign their nomination papers. (It seems unlikely that whoever leads the Tories into the June 7 election will sign Brown’s.)
Feels like 1°C
The Red Bull fridge in his office put me off. I associate Red Bull fridges and their foul contents with terrible nightclubs full of muscle T-wearing jackasses on the make. In 2012, Brown tweeted a photo of himself with two friends dressed up for Halloween at a terrible-looking Barrie nightclub he was known to frequent. He’s dressed up as James Bond. He’s pointing his toy Walther at Goose from Top Gun and Joel from Risky Business. I want to reach back through time and space and slap all three of them.
In a court of law, sure. In the (seemingly unlikely) event these allegations result in criminal charges, he will have his day in court and face his accusers just like anyone else. And we do have defamation laws in this country. Brown must surely know who his accusers are.
Many women often said they got a creepy vibe off Patrick Brown. His haircut was kind of odd. In question period, he was too shrill.
This isn’t just about the #MeToo movement, either. At most points in history, surely, at least some partisans of any conservative party would be alarmed by accusations that their unmarried teetotaler leader was hanging out with 18-year-old girls, plying them with booze and then trying his luck once they got suitably sloshed. The main difference now, I suspect, is that we’re actually hearing the stories that would in the past have gone untold.
The #MeToo movement “is shaking the foundations of our democracy,” Christie Blatchford wrote in the Post, “because fundamental to a democracy is — was — the right to face your accuser and make full answer in defence.”
January 27, 20181:45 PM EST