‘Eye-roll-generating political theatre’: Patrick Brown explains decision to skip Conservative leadership debate – Toronto.com

Brampton Mayor and Conservative Party leadership candidate Patrick Brown feels pretty good about his decision to skip Thursday’s leadership candidates debate.

Brown told the Brampton Guardian he chose to stay on the campaign trail in Atlantic Canada to sell memberships rather than travel to Ottawa for the debate.

“Instead of participating in yesterday’s eye-roll-generating political theatre, I was on the ground in Atlantic Canada,” he said. “The support I’ve already received for my campaign in Atlantic Canada has been amazing. I was working all week building the party in areas (my opponents) have very little connectivity.”

Brown’s five competitors in the race — Pierre Poilievre, Leslyn Lewis, Jean Charest, Roman Baber and Scott Aitchison — duked it out on stage for roughly two hours covering several topics with the debate escalating into sometimes heated exchanges between the candidates.

Brown believes he came out looking better in the end by choosing to sit this one out.

“Some are saying I won last night, and I didn’t even participate,” he said. “That debate was a two-hour shouting match full of interruptions, mistruths and over-the-top personal attacks designed to score cheap social media soundbites.”

“I’m sure Justin Trudeau loved every second of it. But I didn’t,” Brown added.

The mayor took aim at one candidate in particular in his comments, accusing Pierre Poilievre of setting a negative tone for both the debate and race so far, which Brown believes is only helping the Liberals in their efforts toward securing a fourth term when the next federal election comes around.

“Look, Pierre Poilievre set the tone for this race when he launched vicious attack ads against fellow conservatives as soon as the campaign began, further dividing the party. And I know why he did. Once again, he’s getting bad advice from the same people who paved the way Justin Trudeau’s 2015 majority government victory,” he told the Guardian.

Brown added his strategy to win the next federal election should he become the next party leader is to widen the party’s based with a less ideological approach. He said he believes the path to a Conservative Party victory in the next election requires appealing to voters who haven’t traditionally voted Conservative.  

He pointed to his previous election success in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) as evidence of why he believes that strategy will work. Brown has won elections at all three levels of government in or close to the GTA. First as an MP and MPP in Barrie before winning the Brampton mayoral election in 2018.

Brown also garnered significant support in the GTA during his successful leadership run for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in 2015. He was replaced by current Ontario Premier Doug Ford just months before the 2018 provincial election prompting his move to municipal politics in Brampton.

“I won in the GTA by sharing with voters who haven’t traditionally supported the Conservative Party a hopeful, optimistic conservative vision for the future. For me, it is Bill Davis-style conservatism. We can do that on a national level,” he said.