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 him.  (NATHAN DENETTE / THE CANADIAN PRESS)  

Fri., Jan. 26, 2018


A teenage girl walks into a bar . . .

An unwelcome pass from a much older man.

“Get lost!”

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 disastrous results.

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 federal MP.

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 Christmas.

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 business.

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 agreed.

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 alleged instances.

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.

But hot.