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Days of inner-circles protecting boorish leaders are over: Just ask Patrick Brown

Three senior staffers told him to quit – when he refused, they did the right thing
Patrick Brown, former head of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party
Patrick Brown, former head of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party. Reuters

By Todd Humber

Just one quick thought on the stunning resignation of Patrick Brown, who until this morning was the leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party.

Last night, CTV broke a story about allegations from two women with similar stories about Brown’s behaviour.

“One was still in high school when she says Brown, a well-known Barrie politician, asked her to perform oral sex on him,” a CTV report stated. “The other, a university student who worked in his office when Brown was a federal Conservative MP, alleges Brown sexually assaulted her following an event she helped organize.”

Both of these incidents allegedly happened at his home in Barrie, Ont., following nights of drinking. The incidents are disturbing and can be read in detail on CTV News. Social media communications in the report lend a lot of credibility to the allegations.

What I found heartening in this debacle was the reaction of Brown’s senior staff — they resigned en masse. Campaign manager Alykhan Velshi, advertising expert Andrew Boddington and press secretary Nicholas Bergamini all walked out the door when Brown initially refused to resign.

“After speaking with him, our advice was that he should resign as PC Party leader,” the trio said in a joint statement. “He did not accept that advice. We have therefore resigned our positions.”

Velshi, Boddington and Bergamini — by all accounts professionals with good reputations in Ontario’s political scene — are to be commended for doing the right thing.

Until a few months ago, senior leaders and powerful men like Brown could have counted on colleagues and underlings to circle the wagons and form a strong defense — waging a protracted “he said, she said” battle until the fury died down and the media found something else to talk about.

Those days are, clearly, gone.

Creeps accused of misdeeds like Brown can no longer count on good people standing by and doing nothing, no matter how much power they wield.

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Todd Humber

Todd Humber is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. Follow him on Twitter @ToddHumber
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