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LILLEY: Brown cleared for take off in Conservative leadership race

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Patrick Brown’s dream of being premier of Ontario was ended by a false and reckless CTV story four years ago. Now, his dream of running to be leader of the federal Conservative Party has been made possible by CTV admitting they goofed up badly with that story.

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“Key details provided to CTV for the story were factually incorrect and required correction. CTV National News regrets including those details in the story and any harm this may have caused to Mr. Brown,” CTV said in a statement.

The harm from that story was immediate and harsh.

Facing allegations from CTV that he had bought an underaged woman drinks and pressured her for sex saw Brown ousted as leader and shamed on a grand scale. The most damaging elements of the story though were the ones that turned out to be false, the woman wasn’t underage.

Without those details, CTV’s story amounted to little more than “single man likes to meet women.”

With Brown now looking at a run for the federal leadership, the timing of CTV’s mea cupla couldn’t come at a better time for the ambitious mayor of Brampton. Rules for the leadership race have now been released by the party, and they suit Brown’s timeline.

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He will be one of many candidates entering the race.

While MP Pierre Poilievre announced his candidacy weeks ago and has been travelling the country meeting supporters, his time as the sole candidate is now up. MP Leslyn Lewis who came third in the last leadership race announced her intentions to seek the top post on social media on Tuesday.

“I’m running to lead our party and our country based on hope, unity and compassion,” Lewis posted on social media along with a video of her speech in Parliament against the Emergencies Act.

On Wednesday, it was Ontario MPP Roman Baber’s turn to announce, making it clear he would be running on a platform opposed to COVID restrictions.

“I don’t believe there’s anyone in the race who was willing to speak out against lockdowns or vaccine passports until recently,” Baber told the Canadian Press.

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On Thursday, Jean Charest will announce his candidacy for the Conservative leadership, making a series of media appearances before jetting off to Calgary to meet with supporters. It’s an interesting tactic for a man seen as part of the eastern Canadian establishment with no chance in the West.

Charest was leader of the Progressive Conservative Party from 1993-98 before going to Quebec to take on the separatist government of Lucien Bouchard. He then served as premier from 2003 to 2012 and has avoided active politics since.

In fact, one of the knocks against Charest is that he will have to show his connection to the party he seeks to lead. He hasn’t been involved, and while premier, Charest often butted heads with the Harper government.

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With Peter MacKay looking increasingly like he won’t be entering, the race will come down to a battle between Charest with the backing of portions of the party establishment and Poilievre who claims to stand for the party’s grassroots.

Lewis, though, shouldn’t be counted out. She surprised many by winning every Western province in the second round while being eliminated due to a low level of support in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

As for Brown, his campaign team is known for their strong organizational abilities, especially in signing up new party members.

It’s what helped him win his leadership role in Ontario; it will certainly be put to the test if and when he enters the federal race.

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