The Spectator’s View: Patrick Brown makes his first big mistake

Opinion Apr 15, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

And he was doing so well.

The relatively new leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative party was making all the right moves and noises about the party's direction. He talks about supporting a carbon tax. He wants a very big political tent were everyone is welcome, unlike his ideologically laden predecessors. He seems to recognize the party needs to broaden its appeal beyond rural small "c" conservatives to become a more viable alternative to the governing Liberals.

And then along comes the Jack MacLaren fiasco, and Brown commits his first significant gaffe. MacLaren is a troglodyte who also happens to be the eastern Ontario representative in the PC caucus. He's more than a backbench junior voice.

Last month, at a "men's night" cancer fundraising event, MacLaren saw fit to make a vulgar — really nasty — joke concerning the federal Liberal MP from his riding, Karen McCrimmon, and her husband. Suffice to say the subject matter was oral sex, and the audience was left shocked and embarrassed by MacLaren's idiotic attempt at humour. McCrimmon was at the same event, in fact standing not far from MacLaren on the stage. She was embarrassed, but seemed more concerned about the impact on people attending the event for a good cause.

MacLaren came under attack from across the political spectrum. Some of his caucus colleagues wanted him removed, but Brown stood by the MPP. That was his first mistake. There is no place for this sort of public sexism and vulgarity in any political party, let alone one trying to shed its caveman roots. Brown ought to have removed the offender from caucus, thereby doing the right thing in substance and sending the right message to his own party and citizens. Why he didn't do that is anyone's guess, but it doesn't reflect well on the leader's sincerity and judgment.

MacLaren was initially unrepentant. When he finally saw how much trouble he was really in, he apologized long after the actual offence. Then he made the situation infinitely worse: He or his staff posted on his website fake testimonials supporting MacLaren. Fake pictures. Fake words. Not yet content with embarrassing himself and his party, he first claimed the photos were not of the actual endorsers in order to protect them from publicity. But the truth quickly came out and he was forced to admit posting the fraudulent endorsements and, yet again, grudgingly apologize.

Brown's reaction? He demoted MacLaren from the eastern Ontario representative post, but didn't fire him. Second mistake. Maybe MacLaren has done good things in the past. It doesn't matter. He should have been booted from caucus and the fact he wasn't will make many Ontarians wonder if Brown is sincere about setting a higher standard.

Howard Elliott

The Spectator’s View: Patrick Brown makes his first big mistake

Opinion Apr 15, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

And he was doing so well.

The relatively new leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative party was making all the right moves and noises about the party's direction. He talks about supporting a carbon tax. He wants a very big political tent were everyone is welcome, unlike his ideologically laden predecessors. He seems to recognize the party needs to broaden its appeal beyond rural small "c" conservatives to become a more viable alternative to the governing Liberals.

And then along comes the Jack MacLaren fiasco, and Brown commits his first significant gaffe. MacLaren is a troglodyte who also happens to be the eastern Ontario representative in the PC caucus. He's more than a backbench junior voice.

Last month, at a "men's night" cancer fundraising event, MacLaren saw fit to make a vulgar — really nasty — joke concerning the federal Liberal MP from his riding, Karen McCrimmon, and her husband. Suffice to say the subject matter was oral sex, and the audience was left shocked and embarrassed by MacLaren's idiotic attempt at humour. McCrimmon was at the same event, in fact standing not far from MacLaren on the stage. She was embarrassed, but seemed more concerned about the impact on people attending the event for a good cause.

MacLaren came under attack from across the political spectrum. Some of his caucus colleagues wanted him removed, but Brown stood by the MPP. That was his first mistake. There is no place for this sort of public sexism and vulgarity in any political party, let alone one trying to shed its caveman roots. Brown ought to have removed the offender from caucus, thereby doing the right thing in substance and sending the right message to his own party and citizens. Why he didn't do that is anyone's guess, but it doesn't reflect well on the leader's sincerity and judgment.

MacLaren was initially unrepentant. When he finally saw how much trouble he was really in, he apologized long after the actual offence. Then he made the situation infinitely worse: He or his staff posted on his website fake testimonials supporting MacLaren. Fake pictures. Fake words. Not yet content with embarrassing himself and his party, he first claimed the photos were not of the actual endorsers in order to protect them from publicity. But the truth quickly came out and he was forced to admit posting the fraudulent endorsements and, yet again, grudgingly apologize.

Brown's reaction? He demoted MacLaren from the eastern Ontario representative post, but didn't fire him. Second mistake. Maybe MacLaren has done good things in the past. It doesn't matter. He should have been booted from caucus and the fact he wasn't will make many Ontarians wonder if Brown is sincere about setting a higher standard.

Howard Elliott

The Spectator’s View: Patrick Brown makes his first big mistake

Opinion Apr 15, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

And he was doing so well.

The relatively new leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative party was making all the right moves and noises about the party's direction. He talks about supporting a carbon tax. He wants a very big political tent were everyone is welcome, unlike his ideologically laden predecessors. He seems to recognize the party needs to broaden its appeal beyond rural small "c" conservatives to become a more viable alternative to the governing Liberals.

And then along comes the Jack MacLaren fiasco, and Brown commits his first significant gaffe. MacLaren is a troglodyte who also happens to be the eastern Ontario representative in the PC caucus. He's more than a backbench junior voice.

Last month, at a "men's night" cancer fundraising event, MacLaren saw fit to make a vulgar — really nasty — joke concerning the federal Liberal MP from his riding, Karen McCrimmon, and her husband. Suffice to say the subject matter was oral sex, and the audience was left shocked and embarrassed by MacLaren's idiotic attempt at humour. McCrimmon was at the same event, in fact standing not far from MacLaren on the stage. She was embarrassed, but seemed more concerned about the impact on people attending the event for a good cause.

MacLaren came under attack from across the political spectrum. Some of his caucus colleagues wanted him removed, but Brown stood by the MPP. That was his first mistake. There is no place for this sort of public sexism and vulgarity in any political party, let alone one trying to shed its caveman roots. Brown ought to have removed the offender from caucus, thereby doing the right thing in substance and sending the right message to his own party and citizens. Why he didn't do that is anyone's guess, but it doesn't reflect well on the leader's sincerity and judgment.

MacLaren was initially unrepentant. When he finally saw how much trouble he was really in, he apologized long after the actual offence. Then he made the situation infinitely worse: He or his staff posted on his website fake testimonials supporting MacLaren. Fake pictures. Fake words. Not yet content with embarrassing himself and his party, he first claimed the photos were not of the actual endorsers in order to protect them from publicity. But the truth quickly came out and he was forced to admit posting the fraudulent endorsements and, yet again, grudgingly apologize.

Brown's reaction? He demoted MacLaren from the eastern Ontario representative post, but didn't fire him. Second mistake. Maybe MacLaren has done good things in the past. It doesn't matter. He should have been booted from caucus and the fact he wasn't will make many Ontarians wonder if Brown is sincere about setting a higher standard.

Howard Elliott