Patrick Brown. (file photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn Media.)Patrick Brown. (file photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn Media.)

Brown disqualified from the Conservative leadership race

Patrick Brown has been removed from the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race.

In a surprise announcement late Tuesday night, Chair of the Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) Ian Brodie stated Brown was disqualified for allegedly breaking financing rules under the Elections Canada Act.

"In recent weeks, our party became aware of serious allegations of wrongdoing by the Patrick Brown campaign that appear to violate the financial provisions of the Canada Elections Act. Following our rules and procedures for the 2022 Leadership, the chief returning officer notified the Patrick Brown campaign of the allegations and asked for a written response," Brodie said in a statement. "The information provided to date by the Patrick Brown campaign did not satisfy concerns about their compliance with our rules and procedures and/or the Canada Elections Act."

Brodie maintains that both he and the chief returning officer did their best to be fair to Brown's campaign by providing them with time to "substantively refute these allegations" and regrets having to disqualify him from the leadership contest.

"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 Brodie.

He added that the allegations against Brown will not have any impact on the integrity of the vote itself and that the party will be sharing the information it has gathered with Elections Canada.

"While we felt it important to provide a transparent response to Party members about this matter, because this issue is now subject to further investigation, we will not be speaking further on the subject," Brodie concluded.

Brown's campaign, meanwhile, has been quick to level allegations of its own.

In a statement, Brown's campaign said the disqualification is unfounded and accused the party of acting in favour of Pierre Poilievre, one of the five remaining candidates in the leadership race.

"Why is the party doing this? It was expecting a coronation for Pierre Poilievre. When the final membership numbers came in, it became clear Poilievre did not have the points to win this race," the statement reads. "The attempt to silence Canadians and skirt democratic values through this unfounded disqualification is the only way to ensure his victory was secured."

According to the statement, the Brown campaign was never provided with the full details of the "anonymous allegations", nor was it given the chance to defend itself before the LEOC.

Brown's campaign called the disqualification "reprehensible, undemocratic behaviour that breaks faith with hundreds of thousands of Canadians that embraced Patrick Brown's vision of a modern, inclusive Conservative party."

"This is an indictment of the (Conservative Party of Canada), and a party that is not serious about winning a general election. It is an embarrassment. But, not for us."

Brown's team said it is consulting its legal team on the matter.

In addition to Poilievre, those still in the leadership race include Conservative MPs Leslyn Lewis and Scott Aitchison, former Quebec premier Jean Charest, and former Independent Ontario MPP Roman Baber.

Roughly 675,000 people have signed up to vote for the new party leader. The results of that vote are expected to be announced in Ottawa on September 10.

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