Patrick Brown is juggling mayoral duties with Conservative leadership bid
Conservative Party leadership hopeful Patrick Brown has not officially stepped back from his mayoral duties almost a month after entering the party’s leadership race.
He said he would donate his current salary to charity but has not taken a leave of absence from his role as mayor. There are no rules that prevent Brown from juggling his role as mayor with other commitments.
“I think the rule should be that you do take an unpaid leave,” said Duff Conacher, the co-founder of Democracy Watch, an advocacy group focused on government accountability and democratic reform, in an interview with Global News.
Conacher said Brown’s situation was not particularly different than that of his rival, Pierre Poilievre, who is campaigning to lead the party while sitting as a member of Parliament.
Two recently appointed deputy mayors are filling in for Brown in Brampton on an ad hoc basis.
“I think we are going to have to play it by ear,” Coun. Martin Medeiros told Global News. “My understanding is that Mayor Brown will still participate in meetings.”
Brown has not announced he will step back from his role but another southern Ontario mayor has.
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman said he would take an unpaid leave of absence starting March 29 to accommodate his campaign to represent the Ontario Liberals at Queen’s Park.
“I am available to City staff and Members of Council, as needed, to ensure continuity on key files,” Lehman wrote in a note to the city clerk on March 7 confirming his leave of absence.
Conacher said people should “not go without having someone to call” when politicians campaign for new roles. He suggested council appoint interim replacements to ensure continued representation for voters.
A picture Brown posted on Twitter on March 17 showed him standing behind a podium with the City of Brampton’s logo. “Wonderful St Patrick’s Day celebration at #Brampton City Hall this morning,” he wrote, four days after entering the Conservative leadership race.
He was tagged by the City of Brampton’s official Twitter account at an event on March 23.
On March 29, Brown signed a proclamation declaring an International Transgender Day of Visibility in Brampton in his role as mayor.
A spokesperson for the City of Brampton said the clerk’s office had received “no information” regarding a leave of absence for the mayor to campaign. They said questions should be sent to the mayor’s office.
The Brampton mayor did not respond to questions from Global News.
Brown is running to become Conservative leader under the slogan “fighter, leader, winner.”
He mounted a successful outsider bid to take over the Ontario PC leadership in 2015, stepping down in 2018 after sexual misconduct allegations reported by CTV, which he denied.
Brown launched a reported $8-million defamation suit against CTV last year, which was settled as he was preparing to launch his leadership bid. No money changed hands as a part of the settlement, but CTV acknowledged that some details provided to the network required correction. The original news stories remain on CTV’s website, and Brown has denied wrongdoing.
He also served as a member of Parliament for the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper, representing Barrie.
Medeiros and colleague Coun. Pat Fortini were appointed as Brampton’s deputy mayors on March 2.
The role means one of the two councillors will take on mayoral duties when Brown is unavailable. This involves chairing meetings, attending events and assuming various “ceremonial duties,” according to an announcement from both councillors.
The Municipal Act states that a municipality can appoint a member of council to “act in the place of the head of council” if the head of council is absent.
“Such member has all the powers and duties of the head of council,” the legislation said.
A member’s seat becomes vacant if they are absent for three successive months without authorization, according to the act.
Medeiros and Fortini attended a funding announcement at Peel Memorial centre on April 3 in their roles as deputy mayors.
“I’ll be filling in where I can, based on the requirements of the mayor, if he’ll be away,” Medeiros said. “Right now, it’s day to day.”
— with files from Global News’ Alex Boutilier and David Akin
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