By Gerry Barker
January 26, 2018
The stunning resignation of PC Leader Patrick Brown within hours of being accused by two anonymous women of sexual misconduct on CTV is a case of irresponsibility of editorial control that is shameful and unfair.
This production alleging sexual assault by the two women, one incident six years ago, the other a high schooler relating her assault 10 years ago, lacked any evidence of complaints to police, confirmation by family, friends or colleagues and absolutely no basis of fact.
Where were the editorial checks and balances by the senior CTV management to ensure the report was clear and fair and supported with evidence that the allegations were true? Did the network obtain a legal opinion about running the story before broadcasting it across the country?
Before broadcasting, did CTV make any attempt to contact Mr. Brown for his response to the accusations? That aspect was missing from the broadcast.
In my opinion, Mr. Brown was ruined by a major Canadian TV Network’s broadcast of his character, morality and reputation without any evidence that these dated charges by the two women are true. They went with it based only on their word.
Nothing has been proven in court, just their word against his, in which after the broadcast, he categorically denied the accusations.
The most stunning aspect of these allegations is that Brown’s PC caucus strongly advised, the next morning, that he should resign, and he did. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also said Brown should resign the following morning. Liberal Leader Premier Kathleen Wynne, was circumspect and avoided commenting on whether Brown was guilty, or not.
Why did these two women tell CTV about their alleged assaults by Brown four months before a provincial election? In our opinion, it appears the timing is no accident but suspiciously well timed to discredit not only Mr. Brown but also the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.
The PC’s, according to the polls, have a commanding 18 per cent lead in the upcoming provincial election June 7.
This provides and allows the obvious incentive to discredit the poll-leading party in any way possible. What better way than to accuse the leader of “sexual misconduct” without any evidence that it ever happened. This is nothing but a throw back to the 50’s when a U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, investigating the influence of Communism in U.S. institutions, ruined the lives and reputations of hundreds of citizens through innuendo and false testimony.
Did the women engage a lawyer to represent them before making their accusations?
Did the women report the assaults to the police? Did either attend a physician for treatment as a result of the alleged assaults? Did they tell their parents or friends about the alleged assaults following the incidents? Is there any co-arbitration of these alleged events?
How does this square with an accuser’s right to a trial and face his accusers as provided by law? If the two women are not prepared to charge Mr. Brown with sexual assault, then their claims are unjustified. Their televised story now borders on a deliberate attempt to disgrace him publicly without the opportunity for him to defend himself in open court.
In my opinion, they may face possible defamation charges if brought by Mr. Brown. Dated allegations are difficult to prosecute due to failed memory of witnesses and tainted testimony.
Even though Mr. Brown has resigned, the Premier should order an immediate police investigation into these allegations if, for no other reason, than to uphold the basic tenant: Innocent until proven guilty.
Possible political backlash?
There is a danger of political backlash here if Premier Wynne fails to order an immediate investigation. With her party’s approval rating currently even with the NDP at 23 per cent and Mr. Brown and the conservatives at 42 per cent, is it possible desperate times call for desperate measures?
It is now evident that CTV has a lot to answer for because of its decision to run the story without accurate confirmation the alleged incidents are true.
The PC leader was not without his problems including detractors in his party and caucus.
Four executive members of his campaign quit immediately. But while that appears ominous, this is the same bunch that has insisted for many months that the Party executive, including the leader, controlled who and where candidates would be running. Many PC riding associations complained they had the final say electing its chosen candidate to represent the riding in the June 7 election.
The executive was challenged by a number of PC riding associations and their activism triggered a cease and desist lawsuit brought by the PC Party executives. A Superior Court Judge, Paul Perell dismissed the suit. “At its heart or essence … is designed to discourage the respondents (Take Back Our PC Party) from expressing themselves on matters of public interest,” adding that the applications uses litigation as a means of limiting expression on matters of public interest.
The Toronto Star’s Queen’s Park bureau Chief, Robert Benzie, reported that the four managers were highly regarded in a sidebar story about Mr. Brown’s allegations Thursday morning.
Guelph is one of those PC ridings that have been told by PC headquarters that it was going to name the candidate. At the time of writing, the PC’s, Liberals nor NDP have named a candidate to represent Guelph with an election just four months away. Only the Green Party has a candidate.
There is no law or order that allows the party leader the divine right to choose which candidates he or she wants to run. The whole riding association system is to allow citizens the right to choose their candidate. It’s an established practice across party lines.
If anyone learned that, it was Premier Wynne following the Sudbury election in 2014 when her staff parachuted a candidate approved by the Liberal hierarchy in Toronto. It shoved aside the man running for the Liberals to bring in a former NDP MP to represent the Liberals and he won. The fallout of this maneuver lasted for three years as the Liberal officials in charge were charged with conspiracy. One was Patricia Sobara, the former chief of staff to the Premier, recently resigned from the party.
It’s clear at this point, that this story misses an important responsibility in journalism: Always get both sides of the story before reporting it.
Editor’s Note: I am not a member of any political party. But I do believe in the rule of law and fair comment and the right to participate in the public’s business. GB