Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Globe editorial: Patrick Brown can protest his innocence, but he had to go

Patrick Brown can and should argue that he is innocent until proven guilty of the allegation that he invited a drunken high-school student to his house 10 years ago and crudely asked her to fellate him. The same applies to the allegation that he invited an inebriated summer employee in his constituency office, who was 19, to his bedroom during a party and then kissed her against her will, in 2013.

But his assertion that the allegations are false cannot simply undo the fact that a media outlet had enough corroborating evidence to air them. Mr. Brown has not been charged with a crime and none is on the horizon, but the women's accounts raise difficult questions about his judgment and character. He could not have continued as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party without hurting his own cause. His caucus and his staff demanded his immediate resignation, which he reluctantly gave.

Would he have been forced out in a different era? One hopes so, but it doesn't matter. We live in a new era. The permission for men to use their positions of power or celebrity to commit acts of sexual impropriety – or worse – has been revoked, because now women who come forward with credible allegations can do so without being disbelieved, accused of complicity, written off as attention-seeking, or silenced with threats. The benefit of the doubt is being more evenly distributed in our society, and women who have been harassed are finding their voice.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Brown isn't the only Canadian politician to discover this week that the old permissions don't apply anymore. On Wednesday, Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative Party asked its leader, Jamie Baillie, to resign after an investigator it hired to probe "allegations of inappropriate behaviour" found he had breached workplace sexual harassment rules.

On Thursday, federal Sports Minister Kent Hehr resigned his cabinet position over allegations made on Twitter that he had verbally harassed women during his time as a member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly.

Three male Canadian politicians, in the space of 48 hours. It would not be a surprise if there were more coming.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.