Categories for Feature

Did Patrick Brown scheme to sell off candidate spots?

And did he plot to put the resulting many thousands in his own pocket?

Check out this stunner Globe and Mail story. It is simply incredible. .

Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown was in talks to sell an interest in a restaurant he partially owns and some Aeroplan miles for $375,000 to a man who went on to become a Tory candidate, documents show.

An affidavit detailing a deal was sworn five months before Jass Johal was acclaimed as the candidate for the PC Party in a new riding in the suburban 905 region around Toronto. According to a copy of the affidavit shown to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Johal, a paralegal who lives in Brampton, says he agrees to purchase two million Aeroplan miles and an ownership interest in Hooligans restaurant from Mr. Brown for $375,000. “The amount is paid by certified draft from Bank of Nova Scotia,” says the affidavit dated June 11, 2016 and signed by Mr. Johal.

… Other documents The Globe has seen, including bank statements, show that Mr. Brown deposited $375,000 into his personal account at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce one month after the affidavit was signed, on July 11, 2016. Later that month, property records show he purchased a waterfront house on Lake Simcoe’s Shanty Bay for $2.3-million. He took out a mortgage of $1.72-million from Toronto-Dominion Bank, according to public mortgage documents.

…[Mr. Brown] declined to answer a question about why the amount agreed to in the sworn affidavit was exactly the same as the deposit a month later into his personal account.

Is Patrick Brown a crook?

We shall see. But I know there is one thing he isn’t, and should never be:

A member of the legislature.

Ten rules about #MeToo and crisis communications

There are lots of rules to remember about politics and public relations and the law. Here are ten.

  1.  Don’t brag about hiring private investigators. For example, in the middle of a #MeToo-type full-blown crisis, don’t have one of your people go on a radio program, and say you’ve hired private detectives to do a “forensic” investigation. Because that means you are admitting you are digging through the private lives of various people – your alleged victims, your caucus colleagues, your former staff who had the good sense to dump you – to dig up dirt. It means your strategy, basically, is to try and pull everyone down into muck with you.
  2. Don’t attack your alleged victims. In the #MeToo era, even Harvey Weinstein – the rutting pig who essentially started the movement – understood that you don’t victimize the victims twice. That is one the best things that have happened, post-Weinstein, in fact: in the court of public opinion, the balance of proof has shifted. More and more of us have a tendency to give women alleging sexual abuse the benefit of the doubt. You needed to remember that. You didn’t.
  3. After paying tribute to victims everywhere, don’t attack them. For instance, after reading off some talking points your lawyers prepared for you – like: “A safe and respectful society is what we expect and deserve. We need to move forward to eradicate sexual violence and harassment across the province – across the country. Everywhere.” – you shouldn’t then turn around, three weeks later, and disrespect your alleged victims. You shouldn’t do the polar opposite of what you exhorted everyone, “everywhere,” to do. Among other things, it makes you look like a liar.
  4. Don’t forget the reflection you see in the mirror. That is, guy whose face you shave every morning. In your essence, in your soul, you know who you are, and you know what people have been saying about you in the riding and elsewhere, for years – namely, that you have a zipper problem, and that you follow your little soldier into battle way too often. That you have been too reckless with too many young women. It’s public relations 101: don’t try and change, in 40 days, a perception that has built up over 40 years. It won’t work.
  5. Don’t attack the media who have told nothing but the truth. For instance, when the country’s biggest media organization has broadcast a story about you – and when you know they’ve been working on it for weeks, and when every word in it has been carefully lawyered, and when they have given you an opportunity to respond – it’s pretty dumb to come out, a full three weeks after you resigned, and call them names. One, they gave you a chance to respond. Two, if they were are as wrong as you claim, then why resign? If it was all a lie, like you say, why quit?
  6. Don’t be obvious. For example, don’t start bragging about how you are going to launch a public relations campaign with only select media – the ones you have been friendly with, say – and use it as a pretext to attack other media. At the end of the day, media folks will almost always stick together: when you unfairly attack one, they will see it as an unfair attack on all of them.
  7. Don’t treat a minor misstep like a major war crime. Are the media human? Yes, they are. Do they make mistakes? Yes, like all humans, they make mistakes. So, say, if one of your alleged victims gets wrong her age at the time of an alleged incident – and if that does absolutely nothing to alter the main allegation against you (to wit, acting inappropriately with a young woman) – don’t treat that like the P.R. equivalent of V Day. People understand that sexual harassment and sexual abuse are, for the victims, profoundly traumatic events: they don’t expect “forensic” clarity. When you do, you look even more like an asshole.
  8. Take advice; listen to others. Your staff and your colleagues defended you, day after day after day. They worked their tails off for you, and defended you against every criticism – including persistent allegations of inappropriate personal behaviour. When your staff all resign on you (on a matter of principle) or your caucus colleagues insist that you resign (ditto), it is bad, bad strategy to start attacking them post facto. Among other things, it’s unfair. And it says a lot more about you than it does about them.
  9. Pop culture has lessons to give, sometimes. Remember “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to?” Remember that, the big hit by Lesley Gore, way back in the Sixties? That’s what you are doing now, essentially. You are essentially saying that it was my party, and I’ll destroy it if I want to. That is your strategy: if you can’t raise yourself up, you will pull everyone else down. If you can’t be the winner, you’ll make sure no one else wins, either.
  10. Put up or shut up. It’s been more than three weeks. You’ve called the allegations against you “defamatory,” over and over and over. Well, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is, big little man. Either issue a Libel Notice, or don’t. But if you don’t – and, so far, you haven’t – you are reminding everyone that, mostly, what was said about you was true.

There you go: ten PR tips, free of charge. Haven’t even mentioned your name.

Don’t have to.

The gun lobby are terrorists

Good morning, Your Honour. We appear before you this morning to argue for the proposition that the defendant, the National Rifle Association of America, hereafter referred to as the NRA, is properly classified as a terrorist organization. And, accordingly, that the NRA’s directors and officers have been engaged in a campaign of terror against civilian populations.

Our indictment of the NRA, as you know, arises out of section 802 of the USA Patriot Act, No. 107-52, which has expanded the definition of terrorism to cover “domestic,” as opposed to international, terrorism.

Therein, the Patriot Act, which was overwhelmingly supported and passed by all parties in Congress, sets out that a person has engaged in domestic terrorism if they do something that is “dangerous to human life,” which the NRA has in fact done since the earliest days of its 1871 charter in New York State.

To be successful in prosecuting a crime under the Patriot Act, it must be shown that the NRA, one, intimidated or coerced the civilian population — which they have done, ceaselessly, for generations.

Two, that they have influenced the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion — which they have done, with armies of millionaire gun lobbyists threatening elected representatives with defeat and disgrace if they do not do the NRA’s bidding.

And, three, most crucially, we must show the NRA has attempted to affect the conduct of our government by “mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.”

We cannot state for a fact, Your Honour, that the NRA has actively engaged in assassinations or kidnappings. We can state, however, that the NRA will be shown to have energetically advocated measures that are bound to lead to mass destruction, even in the wake of the killings of 20 children in Newtown.

One of their recent advertising campaigns even offers up the former president’s own children as rhetorical fodder, and is ample evidence of the NRA’s willingness — like any terrorist organization — to terrorize children and parents to achieve its political goals.

We also take the view that at the time Thomas Jefferson and other founders ratified the Second Amendment, they did not intend it to be applied to the mass murder of six-year-olds using assault weapons. It was to be applied to flintlocks, which were what existed at the time of the amendment’s promulgation.

We are aware that the definition of terrorism is broad, Your Honour, and there is a robust debate about when it applies.

But under section 802 of the Patriot Act, we remind you that this court need only find the NRA has — within the territorial confines of the United States — engaged in a campaign of intimidation or coercion of our government, and our citizens.

You need only find that the NRA seeks to affect the conduct of government by advocating “mass destruction.”

Lobbying for guns in schools is that, Your Honour. So is openly threatening members of Congress so that they will lift bans on assault weapons. So is helping teenagers to purchase AK-47 assault weapons at gun shows. So is calling law enforcement “jack-booted government thugs.”

So is suggesting the last same president of the United States facilitates murder. So, most of all, is assassinating minimal efforts to prevent something like Newtown from ever happening again.

All these things the NRA has done, Your Honour. All of these acts of intimidation and coercion are not dissimilar to the campaigns of the Taliban or al-Qaida.

They may wear expensive suits, Your Honour, but the NRA is not much different from the terrorists. They deserve to be treated as such by this court.

Brown is kicked out of caucus – but will he run for leader again? (updated)

I’m told he plans to.

Now, Vic Fedeli did what a few of us felt he needed to do – he needed to kick out the former leader:

But get this:

Is this nuts? Yes, Virginia, it is nuts.

How can you run for leader of a party when you have been booted out of that party’s caucus?

Again: this guy is a human wrecking ball. He wants to bring everyone else down to his level.

That only works, I think, if there isn’t more damaging stuff about him out there.

And, believe me: there is.

Watch this space, folks.

UPDATE: From smart reader Robert White:

Brown can’t run for the leadership unless the official party interim leader signs his nomination papers. Brown is officially out of caucus, and cannot get his nomination papers signed for the riding of Barrie unless his pending litigation is completed by 5:00pm tonight.

Brown is officially out of the Queen’s Park legislature as a sitting MPP due to the fact that he has not signed up under independent status, and can’t sign up for PC Party nomination in his riding. Fedeli can’t commit political suicide by reneging on his vow that he would only sign the nomination papers if Brown cleared his reputation.

Bye bye, Patrick ‘the Clown’ Brown.

Politics in Ontario is fun this time round.


The Patrick Clown Show, plus bonus caucus resignation phone call tape!

ABOVE: Brown says he didn’t resign – but here’s the tape proving that he did!

Yesterday there was an Ontario PC leader debate.  You are forgiven for not noticing.

That’s because – as my friend Tasha notes in her column, here – The Patrick Clown Show™ risks eclipsing everything else.  It’s like that 1963 Lesley Gore hit, It’s My Party – you know, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”

Well, Brown version is: It’s Still My Party, and I’ll Destroy It If I Want To.

Let’s recap yesterday, shall we?

Follow all that?  I don’t either.

Here are the possibilities, boys and girls: one, The Patrick Clown Show really is a clown show, and its principals wouldn’t know how to run a two-house paper route.

Or, two, the strategic objective is the Lesley Gore song after all: if Mr. Zipper Problem™ can’t run the party, then he’ll take down the party.  Boom.

Either way, The Patrick Clown Show has made one key, key error, folks: its brain trust – and there’s an oxymoron if there ever was one! – are assuming that nothing else is about to come out about their man.

They shouldn’t assume that. (See video, above.)



Patrick Brown thinks he’s still leader (updated multiple times)

He has had “Progressive Conservative leader” on his Facebook profile for weeks.  Now we know why.

He’s launching the first political coup in modern Ontario history.

This guy is in (deserved) exile on Elba, and he’s still insisting everyone call him Emperor.  The Emperor wears no clothes, more like.

My view? Vic Fedeli needs to boot him out of the PC caucus – because the only coup conspirator appears to be Patrick Brown himself. This guy thinks he could be Premier? This is how he behaves?

Patrick Brown: a kid throwing a tantrum.

Sources close to Patrick Brown say he never signed a resignation letter and is still leader of the Ontario PC Party, CityNews has learned.

The sources further claim the party leadership race is invalid and someone in the PC party crafted the resignation letter without Brown’s authorization or signature.

“(Brown) is fighting for everything; he is fighting for his political life and he is not going to give it away,” one of the sources said.

According to the sources, if the PC party goes ahead with the leadership vote on March 10, it could be met with a legal challenge.

The sources also said Brown is being encouraged to take his seat in the chair of leader of the Opposition when the legislature resumes on Feb. 20.“It is his rightful and lawful seat,” one of the sources said.

“This is an assault on our democracy. We can basically go into an election without a leader in June if the party pushes back.”  

UPDATE: Oh, and check this out: here’s Brown’s own hand-picked lawyer – a guy who was the PC Party’s lawyer, until recently – over on Facebook.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Brown claims he didn’t authorize the “he’s still the leader” insanity, here.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: But, um, here he is, in his own words, telling Global that: “The resignation was sent out without my permission.” So which is it? Did you resign, or did you not resign?

From next week’s column: PR tips in the #MeToo era

There’s a couple of them that seem particularly germane this morning.

I wonder who I am referring to?

Don’t attack your alleged victims. In the #MeToo era, even Harvey Weinstein – the rutting pig who essentially started the movement – understood that you don’t victimize the victims twice. That is one the best things that have happened, post-Weinstein, in fact: in the court of public opinion, the balance of proof has shifted. More and more of us have a tendency to give women alleging sexual abuse the benefit of the doubt. You needed to remember that. You didn’t.

• Put up or shut up. It’s been more than three weeks. You’ve called the allegations against you “defamatory,” over and over and over. Well, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is, big little man. Either issue a Libel Notice, or don’t. But if you don’t – and, so far, you haven’t – you are reminding everyone that, mostly, what was said about you was true.

Happy birthday

Many guys will understand what I mean when I say this: your father is both a bit of light, and a bit of shadow, over your path through life.

Mine, T. Douglas Kinsella, MD, OC, would have been 86 years old today. So many years after we lost him, he remains a constant in our lives. He still illuminates some of the path. Without even being here, he still quietly persuades me to examine the choices I have made.

Me? I have made bad choices. I have been reckless and cruel with the hearts of too many. I have not lived by the single rule he left us.

“Love people, and be honest,” he said to us, and I often feel I have done neither.

He saved many lives as a physician, and he won accolades, and he was a member of the Order of Canada. But for us – my brothers, my nephew he raised, my closest friends – he was the man we aspired to be. Not for the distinctions he received, but for how he was, in his soul.

He was unfailingly honest; he was kind to everyone he met. He married his high school sweetheart, and was with her every single day for 50 years, and my God how they loved each other. We would sit there at the kitchen table in Calgary or Kingston or Montreal, and we would listen to him. He’d listen to us, too, and persuade us to try and figure things out. There were some great times, around that table.

The best thing is having a father like that. The harder thing is knowing that you will never be like him.

I had a dream that he died in 9/11; I don’t know why, but I did. I woke up weeping, and remembered that I wasn’t a boy anymore, and that he has been gone for more than a decade. I don’t think he would like what his son has become. I know I don’t.

So I put on my pants and shoes, and went out into the day, looking for what’s left of the path.

Happy birthday. I miss you.

Patrick Brown, P.I. (updated)

Welcome to today’s class in how not to do P.R., folks.  Today’s case study is Patrick Brown, former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Three weeks ago, CTV  broadcast a report that Brown had engaged in graphic sexual misconduct with two very young women.  He denied the allegations of the two young women, but he stepped down a few hours after the CTV report.

His party started a leadership race to replace him.  All of the candidates seem to be a lot more popular than he was.

Three weeks after he resigned, Brown hired a PR firm and started a media tour.  He attacked the young women who made the allegations against him.  The two young women doubled down on their stories, refusing to back off.

I have been told by CTV folks that Brown has not taken steps to sue them or his accusers.  And he’s rapidly running out of time to do so.  In my view, until he serves a Libel Notice, I don’t give a rat’s ass about whatever he has to say.  It’s all spin or bullshit, at this point.

Oh, and this: Patrick Brown has hired private investigators. (UPDATE: These guys, I’m told.)

I found that out on-air, on CFRA on Monday afternoon.  I was on Evan Solomon’s show with Karl Belanger and Alise Mills when Alise said she was working with Brown, and that he had hired private investigators.  Here’s what she said: “Patrick has hired someone to do the forensics, a P.I., he’s got a very strong legal team.”

That was news.

Evan and I started questioning Alise, who I know to be an honest person.  She didn’t walk back her statement.  She stood by it.

To repeat: Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to do “forensics.”  Forensics are defined  as “scientific tests or techniques used in connection with the detection of crime.”

So, whose crime?  And who are they investigating?  There are only three possibilities, because there are only three groups of participants in this sordid tale.

  1. One possibility is Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to do “forensics” on him.  Given that he’s the client, this isn’t highly likely.
  2. Another possibility is that Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to discredit the CTV team who worked on this story.  I’ve been told by two sources at CTV that they think P.I. types are indeed following them around.
  3. The only other possibility is that Patrick Brown has hired private investigators to discredit and attack the two young women who made the allegations in the first place.

Those are the only possibilities.  If it’s either 2 or 3, it is big, big news: a sitting member of the provincial legislature has hired private investigators to go after the media and two young women who claim to have been sexually assaulted. (Another possibility: he’s investigating other MPPs: but that would be a clear violation of their Parliamentary privilege.)

Anyway. If the above is true – if what Alise Mills revealed on Monday is indeed the case – I do not see how Patrick Brown can be permitted to retain his seat.

Digging up dirt on reporters, doing their jobs?  Digging up dirt on alleged victims of sexual assault? Digging up dirt on fellow MPPs?

That’s not the kind of person we need in our provincial parliament.