Brown and Poilievre trade blows in Conservative leadership rivalry


Published March 14, 2022 at 10:53 am

Patrick Brown CPC campaign launch

A war of words is underway as Patrick Brown and Pierre Poilievre have set their sights on the Conservative Party of Canada leadership, and on eachother.

On Sunday, Brampton Mayor Brown announced his entry into the Conservative leadership race at the Queen’s Manor Event Centre after weeks of speculation.

Brown told a crowd of supporters that he hopes to attract people who have never voted Conservative to the party and wants Conservative newcomers “to feel welcome in our family.”

But just before Brown took the stage, fellow leadership hopeful and Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre ran an attack ad targeting Brown, saying the Brampton mayor and former Ontario Progrssive Conservative Party leader “will say and do anything.”

The ad took aim at his “flip flopped” positions on the carbon tax and Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum while leader of the Ontario PC Party, as well as”allegations of questionable spending.”

“While Patrick Brown has tried to reinvent himself as mayor of Brampton, his playbook hasn’t changed,” the ad says as it displays headlines from recent news stories on Brampton’s integrity commissioner and the now-halted BramptonU project.

Brown fired back at Poilievre’s “position against religious freedom” on Monday , saying the MP “asked for a fight.”

“He’s got one,” Brown said on Twitter.

In a statement, Brown called out Poilievre’s support of “two discriminatory policies” from the 2015 Conservative Party election campaign – the niqab ban and the barbaric cultural practices tipline.

“Rather than making this the most welcoming country to immigrants in the world, he has happily pushed rhetoric that only attempted to divide people rather than bring them together,” Brown said in a statement.

Brown said any attempt by Poilievre to distance himself from those policies “would be a hollow gesture” and “an insincere bid to gain votes.”

The Brampton mayor has been outspoken about his opposition to Quebec’s Bill 21 which prohibits public workers in Quebec from wearing any religious symbols while on the job.

During Brown’s campaign announcement he also suggested certain candidates in the race would seek to “divide” the party and give Canadians reason to vote against the Conservatives.

While not calling out Poilievre by name, Brown said Conservatives “deserve more than a leader who is an attack dog in opposition, but will never be prime minister because they’ve already turned off many Canadians.”

“But we have to aspire in order to win a general election,” Brown said. “There’s too much at stake to elect another leader who will keep us in opposition.”

Brown has not signalled any intent to resign as mayor of Brampton while seeking the federal party leadership, and has said he would donate his salary to various causes including the William Osler Health System Foundation for the duration of the race.

With files from The Canadian Press

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