I don’t care if Patrick Brown was a randy womanizer
Nor am I “disgusted’’ by the former Ontario PC Leader’s
purported “misconduct,” which is small beer as recounted in the allegations
leveled at him, Rosie DiManno writes.
A Queen's Park legislative staff member takes down Patrick
Brown's office name at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday after Brown stepped
down as Ontario PC leader when allegations of sexual misconduct were levelled at
DENETTE / THE
Fri., Jan. 26, 2018
A teenage girl walks into a bar . . .
An unwelcome pass from a much older man.
That’s how you do it, stranger-to-stranger.
It isn’t rocket science.
You don’t stagger drunk back to the guy’s house and then get
all damsel-in-distress stressed over a crossed-wires sloppy seduction scene,
as, way belatedly, both accusers of alleged sexual misconduct by Patrick
Brown have now portrayed their encounters.
I’m not casting blame.
I’m not shaming.
I’m not speculating about motive.
I am simply following the sketchy narrative as provided by the complainants to
CTV, which former Ontario PC Leader Brown denied before dropping out of sight.
For someone in a position where there is a power imbalance — and show me
somebody who isn’t in such a position, having either the upper or lower hand —
but more specifically in an employer-employee relationship, prudence should
discourage any kind of intimacy.
Most especially because the delineating line is so vague — or ridiculously
vigorous — that it’s difficult to determine where impropriety lies.
It’s most often utterly subjective.
It’s often viewed differently in retrospect and the advice is widely ignored in
the work place.
Over nearly four decades with the Star, I have lost count of how many reporters
and managers have hooked up, for periods short (real short, as in one-night
stand) and long, formally and casually, wed-locked and procreating and divorced.
Far less than in the free-wheeling old days and a couple of times with
The mating game — by which I mean sex, not necessarily romance — is fraught with
peril, never so much as at this very moment in time, where everything from a
bum-brush (Was that intended? Was that inadvertent?) to rape is tossed into the
same complaint pot.
I still fail to see either the assault or the harassment in the allegations
about heave-hoed former provincial Conservative leader Patrick Brown, as made by
the two anonymous women who pulled the pin on this scandal in interviews with
CTV broadcast Wednesday night. The shudders continue to resonate at Queen’s
Park, where the party unanimously chose Vic Fedeli as interim leader on Friday,
although it’s unclear if Fedeli will quarterback the Tories in June’s election.
In a separate bombshell, MPP Lisa MacLeod, who simultaneously urged her
colleagues to kick Brown out of caucus (in which case he could sit as an
independent), claimed to have heard “similar things” about Brown, rumours about
his alleged Lothario act, although those whispers seem to date to his time as a
That was the well-regarded MacLeod on her way into the meeting, telling
reporters she’d brought her concerns to the Tory war-room a few weeks before
On her way out of the meeting, MacLeod, likely chastened inside, was starting to
tip-toe it back a bit, pointing out there was never any proof, and, no, she
hadn’t taken the whispers to the party’s top echelons, merely to a “friend,”
because she didn’t trust PC staffers loyal to Brown. Wow, she didn’t trust the
party despite flying its colours.
As, indeed, there still isn’t any proof for the most recent accusations,
although the brutally expedient party has clearly bought it hook, line and
sinker. Fedeli yesterday called upon the gone-to-ground Brown to take a “leave
of absence,” which is code for get lost, be-gone, we’ve got an election campaign
to contend and never liked you much anyway.
Nobody behind the firewall has dared defend Brown under the circumstances,
beyond paying lip service to the presumption of innocence.
They no more believe in presumption of innocence and due process than I believe
that the Leafs will win the Stanley Cup this season. Politics is a grimy
Did MacLeod ever seek out the women who had recoiled from Brown’s (alleged)
sloppy approaches? Would that not have been a more admirable pursuit than
precautionary political ass-covering? Oh, wait, there was never any such thing,
because she never dumped the gossip on the party politburo, the same denouncers
now chirping according to the sexual harassment gospel.
This entire sexual sturm
und drang recalls an incident way back in 1992 when a Toronto bartender
took her bitch about Peter North, then Ontario tourism minister in the NDP
government, off her chest and into the premier’s office. The woman revealed
she’d had a . . . something .
. . with the married father of two, which amounted to staying over at his
apartment on several occasions, although they’d never had sexual intercourse.
She stopped seeing North “because he wanted more of a sexual relationship.” Her
complaint, a year later, was prompted by North allegedly offering her a job as
his assistant. North resigned.
A classic NDP sex scandal: No sex involved.
It was wildly funny at the time.
Nothing is funny anymore, God forbid.
What a mosh-pit of pre-emptive condemnation and weaponized indignation we’ve
been pitched into, coalescing around the #MeToo movement, a meritorious
phenomenon that has jumped the shark in some of its recent manifestations.
To be blunt: I don’t care if Brown was a randy womanizer.
Nor am I “disgusted’’ — it’s a favourite word ’round the Legislature over the
past 48 hours — by Brown’s purported “misconduct,” which is small beer as
recounted by the deep throats.
Neither of the women has claimed to be traumatized by their in-the-bedroom
encounters with Brown. One of them, the staffer, later told CBC she felt
“awkward” and “anxious” in the aftermath, particularly when Brown subsequently
invited her to travel with him as “assistant” on a trip to India, and she
But the main source of this complainant’s discomfort, it appears, arose from the
fact Brown was almost twice her age. She was 18 when first the object of Brown’s
flirtations, a year earlier. The other complainant was also 18 when she met
Brown in a bar and accepted his invitation to go back to his place.
From much that I’ve heard and read over the last few days, the age discrepancy
seems as much a font of revulsion as whatever Brown may have said or done in the
Is this what many find creepy, Brown’s purported eye for age-inappropriate leg-overs?
I think of 18-year-olds as girls rather than women. It’s a grey area age,
probably more so for females than males; also a stage where many young women
start to grasp and wield their own sexual power. I can attest to that from
experience. Poor choices are made. We learn, we grow up. Maybe some of us never
get better at the thrust and parry of sexual interactions, the nuances of
gestures and touch and suggestive conversations. The whole kit and caboodle of
it is, frankly, intoxicating. Relationships are not easily compartmentalized. We
don’t draw up contracts in advance.
The age thing, though. Why is it — and I’m talking about Brown here, as alleged
— so dirty-dancing repugnant?
Margaret Sinclair was 18 when she met a certain sexy fellow in Tahiti. She was
22 on the day she became Mrs. Pierre Eliott Trudeau.
He was 30 years older.