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The Conservative Party says excluding Patrick Brown was the right thing to do

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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OTTAWA – The chair of the Organizing Committee for the election of the Canadian Conservative Party leader asserts that the formation cannot “risk” having a candidate under investigation for violating federal laws.

In an email sent to party members on Friday morning, Ian Brody reiterated that the decision to exclude Patrick Brown from the leadership race was the “right thing” to do to preserve the party’s “impeccable” reputation for the long term.

However, the letter makes no mention of the disclosure made Thursday night by whistleblower Debra Goodwin, who alleges Mr Brown broke the law by personally asking a private company to pay for his campaign expenses.

Nor does it address the disagreement among some members of the party’s subcommittee, which has been hesitant since the start of the race to endorse Brown’s nomination.

Sources familiar with the matter told the Canadian Press that some members of the nominations subcommittee were pressing for Mr Brown to be rescinded from the leadership race.

This subcommittee is chaired by former veteran MP Deborah Gray. The other members are current Representative Nelly Sheen, former Yukon Premier Daryl Paslowski, former Stephen Harper cabinet minister Leona Aglocac and party deputy chair Valerie Assulin, according to multiple sources.

Their recommendation was eventually ignored by the National Leadership Competition Organizing Committee, which approved Brown’s nomination on April 26.

Ms Gray declined interview requests from The Canadian Press, while other members were not immediately reached.

Party spokesman Jaroslav Baran also declined to comment on the dispute dating back to last spring.

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The Leadership Elections Organizing Committee voted 11-6 to expel Brown from the race on Tuesday after Prodi made allegations about financial decisions.

Sources familiar with the situation said that evidence tending to corroborate the allegations, including text messages that directly implicated Mr Brown, were not presented to committee members before the vote.

Instead, a Conservative Party lawyer sent the information to the Office of the Electoral Commissioner of Canada, which on Thursday confirmed it had received the documents, but declined to specify what they were, citing confidentiality provisions in Canada’s election law.

The note sent by Mr. Prodi specifies that the information received by the National Committee was “reliable” and “verifiable”. He also thanked the members of the Electoral Organizing Committee for agreeing to make a choice “no one should make”.

This letter was sent to members amid increasing pressure on the Election Commission to reveal more information about what justifies Mr Brown’s exclusion. The former candidate has vehemently denied any knowledge of wrongdoing within his campaign.

Mr. Brown’s campaign team also said the party had not provided detailed information about the charges against him, other than claiming that someone working on his campaign was being paid to work by a private company – a violation of federal election rules.

In an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week, Mr. Brown explicitly denied that he had any personal knowledge of such activity.

But Ms Goodwin, the whistleblower, noted in a statement issued by her attorney on Thursday that Mr Brown had told her that he “may (she) work for a company as a consultant, and then that company (he) is asking him to voluntarily participate in the campaign”.

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Goodwin added that Mr Brown personally linked him to a third party for this purpose, saying: “I trusted him, but over time I became more and more concerned about this arrangement and I thought it was a mistake.”

In the email on Friday, Mr Brody confirmed that Mr Brown’s campaign had had several opportunities to respond to the allegations last week, but that its final version “did not address our concerns about abuse”.

The email claims that Brown’s team “knows well” what the allegations are and that any suggestion otherwise is “simply incorrect”.

Chisholm Potheer, a spokesman for Brown, shared on Twitter an excerpt of a letter he said the campaign sent to the Executive Committee on June 30. Without naming Mrs. Goodwin, she offered a conflicting account of her participation in the campaign.

The letter says, as Mr Brown understood, Mrs. Goodwin volunteered to volunteer during his out-of-hours campaign at the private company, which is owned by Mrs. Brown’s friend.

The letter says the campaign is willing to return the money, which it realizes is less than $10,000, if it is not.

In his statement, Mr. Bowther said Mr Brown’s disqualification was intended to “reduce” the number of contenders in the Conservative race.

Brown accused senior party officials of keeping him out of the race in favor of his main rival, long-time Ottawa MP Pierre Poilevry.

The Boliever campaign denied any involvement.

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