Patrick Brown addresses the The Rural Ontario Municipal Association Jan. 23, 2018. Patrick Brown (@brownbarrie)/Twitter

Charles Lewis: PC leader's fall leaves bitter taste

  • February 20, 2018

For the most part, social conservatives had lost faith in Patrick Brown before the sudden fall of the Progressive Conservative Party leader. 

His flip-flop on sex education was not a great moment for him. Actually, it was a lousy moment. It confirmed what has become a mantra: few politicians care about what religious believers think. Lining up with them is a form of political suicide.

For that reason I’m glad Brown is gone. Though who will replace him may not provide any joy either. Politicians love the middle of the road.

But there was something about this whole mess that put some social conservatives in a bad light. 

I normally don’t base my ideas on what I see on social media. However, in this case I decided to make an exception because of the sheer numbers commenting on Facebook and the vitriol of those comments.

When allegations of sexual misconduct came out against Brown, social media seemed to explode with schadenfreude — the enjoyment of watching someone else suffer. Posting after posting gloated at his fall because of his turnaround on the sex-ed issue. One wrote: “He didn’t stand with us so we won’t stand with him.” 

Others said they had heard rumours for years about his behaviour. Seriously? Rumours? There but for the grace of God go you and I.

Regardless of Brown’s political failings, the accusations should have been greeted with at least some skepticism. That does not mean we should not believe women. But it does mean that, unlike totalitarian countries, every person in this country has the right to the presumption of innocence. 

“For all the other moments #MeToo has wrought, the Patrick Brown story is seminal: A political leader is cut down like a sapling in the forest in a matter of hours, and none of his colleagues, in and outside of the Ontario Conservative party, and including the Ontario premier and the prime minister of Canada, have one word to say in the defence of fair play or the presumption of innocence,” wrote Christie Blatchford.

I was appalled by the comments of Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne, but not surprised. They are leftist ideologues. I am, however, surprised and grieved that Christians would also condemn him without proof.

It was frustrating trying to argue with those who delighted in his downfall. I asked them how they would feel if their brother or husband or father were accused. Would they assume guilt? Would you think the man in their life was deserving of whatever he got? 

Some suggested that being forced to step down by the provincial Tories was proof of Brown’s guilt. Anyone who knows even a bit about politics knows it’s a ruthless game. Innocent or not, no party wants to be led by a leader with such an accusation over his or her head. It would be political suicide. But it does not impugn guilt.

For a short time it seemed that even the secular world was siding with the many religious voices opposed to the federal Liberal’s asinine changes to the summer jobs program. Trudeau and company want all applicants to line up with the government’s view on abortion before receiving grant money. Check a box, leave your conscience at home, and the cheque is in the mail.

Editorial after editorial, even in the ultra liberal Toronto Star, opposed the government on this. Then the Brown thing broke and suddenly the jobs program was past tense. 

Having worked in newspapers for years and spent time as an assignment editor and department head, I can tell you that it’s par for the course to move quickly from one story to another. However, this does not mean we should forget about it. This should be an easy win for us because it is so patently unfair. The money under discussion is not secular money or religious money, but simply tax revenue from all of us. 

What to do? Write to your MP, the labour minister and the prime minister. Write three paragraphs and then ask for a response. 

If this stands, our rights as citizens will have been trampled upon. Repeat after me: Enough.

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Catholic Register.)

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