Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday March 24, 2022
Patrick Brown and Jean Charest have a deal that could make one of them the next Conservative leader
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown — who is expected to announce his bid Sunday — and former Quebec premier Jean Charest — who launches his candidacy Thursday — have forged a pact, sources familiar with the strategy tell the Star. Opinion by althiaraj
Brampton’s mayor and the former Quebec premier have forged a pact in the federal Conservative leadership race, sources say.
Brown and Charest — who launches his candidacy Thursday — have forged a pact, sources familiar with the strategy tell the Star. Could it lead the party to elect a more moderate leader?The men have been friends for more than 25 years. Brown credits his involvement with the Conservatives to Charest, whom he met as a teenager while visiting his aunt, Charest’s next-door neighbour in North Hatley, Que.
The two have spoken at length about the leadership race. I’m told to expect neither will say a bad word about the other — a non-aggression pact, if you will — and that they will “publicly” help one another.Their goals are similarly aligned: a united but more inclusive party that represents the country. Each anticipates the other’s supporters will mark him as their second choice on the party’s ranked ballots, and they may make that expectation clear when members start receiving their ballots this summer.
Charest will meet party members on Thursday evening in Calgary, the Conservative heartland and home turf of former prime minister Stephen Harper. Harper has let it be known that he doesn’t want Charest to be the next leader, and prefers Carleton MP and former cabinet minister Pierre Poilievre take up the mantle.
Although out of politics for a decade, Charest has deep roots in the Progressive Conservative wing of the party. Elected in 1984 in Sherbrooke, Que., he became Canada’s youngest cabinet minister at age 28. In 1993, he lost a bid for the party’s leadership, only to take on the role after becoming one of just two PC MPs to survive a federal election later that year. He grew the morsel of what was left of the PCs while facing a popular Reform party until 1998, when he left federal politics to lead Quebec’s Liberal party in its fight against the sovereignists. Charest served as premier from 2003 until 2012, when the Liberals were defeated.
As premier, he often butted heads with Harper. Charest opposed the federal Conservative government’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, and introduced Quebec’s carbon cap-and-trade system. He demanded increases to federal equalization payments, then used the money for tax cuts, and criticized the Tories during the 2008 federal election campaign for their cuts to culture funding.
Last week, an anti-corruption probe into party financing during Charest’s tenure as premier finally concluded, without charges, clearing the way for his candidacy.Similarly, on Wednesday a dark cloud hanging over Brown was removed whenCTV acknowledged its 2018 story on sexual misconduct allegations — which ended Brown’s tenure as Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leader — contained “factually incorrect” information and “required correction.”Brown is expected to announce his bid for the party’s leadership in Brampton on Sunday. Somewhat of an underdog, Brown has proven he shouldn’t be underestimated. A three-term Conservative MP who was never appointed to Harper’s cabinet or chosen as a parliamentary secretary, he surprised many political observers when he won the Ontario PC leadership in 2015 after out-organizing front-runner Christine Elliott. (Toronto Star)