Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown leaves Queen’s Park after a press conference in Toronto Wednesday. Brown announced the decision in a statement issued early Thursday morning, following a hastily-called news conference in which the Progressive Conservative leader ‘categorically’ denied what he called ‘troubling allegations‘ about his conduct and his character.

Shock, surprise in Barrie, Ont., in light of Patrick Brown’s fall from grace

BARRIE, Ont. — People in the city where Patrick Brown forged his political career reacted with a mix of surprise, public silence, or even indifference to his abrupt resignation as Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leader on Thursday in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations from two women.

At a restaurant in Barrie, Ont., that Brown was known to frequent, a steady stream of customers moved in and out. One patron, retail worker Angela Bert, said the politician was a familiar figure at community events and always seemed proud of his connection to the city.

“It was a shock to see, when I woke up this morning,” Bert said of the news that Brown had stepped down in the wee hours. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Bert, who said she’s a regular at local bars, was adamant she had never heard any rumblings of the kind of sexual misbehaviour of which Brown is accused. The allegations made to CTV News, and not verified by The Canadian Press, include Brown making advances on a young woman who worked in his constituency office.

“The ladies at work were all talking about it and now the media has come down and so everyone is asking what people knew,” Bert said. “I can only speak for myself but I hadn’t heard anything.”

The restaurant’s general manager, however, refused to comment.

At a nearby cheese shop, owner Jessi Fournier and employee Catherine Harrington mulled the situation, saying they had both known Brown for years. Both said Brown was a familiar presence in town, and often helped out at fundraising events.

Both women described him as friendly, professional and public-spirited, and said people looked forward to his attending or speaking at an event.

“It’s shocking. It’s sad,” said Fournier, who helped Brown on one of his political campaigns. “It’s hard to know the truth from both sides.”

Fournier said people rallied behind Brown, a long-time councillor in Barrie, when he ran for leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.

“They were proud of him,” Fournier said.

Harrington, who said Brown was always polite, said no one coming into the store on Thursday had brought up the topic that had roiled the legislature.

Bert, however, said she hoped the fallout from the Brown situation wouldn’t tarnish the city’s image.

“I hope this doesn’t put Barrie in a bad light,” she said. “That would be unfortunate.”

At Brown’s constituency office in Orillia, Ont., a sign on the door said it was meant to be open until 4:30 p.m. Thursday, but it was closed. Most of the owners of neighbouring businesses offered no comment on the allegations, or said they only knew Brown from the news.

Just Posted

Physicians urge Ottawa to pay another $21B over decade for seniors health care

OTTAWA — Physicians are calling on the federal government to shell out… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports manufacturing sales up 1.4 per cent in May

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales increased 1.4 per cent to… Continue reading

Former Mountie who fired Taser at Robert Dziekanski drops appeal of sentence

VANCOUVER — The former RCMP constable who fired a Taser at a… Continue reading

Updated: SUV smashes through fences and deck in Anders

Driver taken to hospital after SUV veered off 30th Avenue into Anders

Art on Red Deer billboard a reminder of aboriginal women’s strength

Joane Cardinal-Schubert’s image is part of Resilience Project, shown from coast to coast

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber falls to Bryce Harper in Home Run Derby final

WASHINGTON — Nationals Park was eerily quiet late Monday when Kyle Schwarber… Continue reading

Lava crashes through roof of Hawaii tour boat, injuring 23

HONOLULU — An explosion caused by lava oozing into the ocean sent… Continue reading

Banff holds blessing ceremony with Indigenous elders before letting bison roam

BANFF, Alta. — Several Indigenous elders were flown by helicopter into the… Continue reading

Research expedition looks at unseen depths of Labrador Sea ecosystem

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Last summer, a team of scientists returned from… Continue reading

Protesters camped outside Saskatchewan legislature taking province to court

REGINA — Protesters camped outside the Saskatchewan legislature say they are taking… Continue reading

British PM accepts key amendments from hardline Brexiteers

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday accepted amendments to… Continue reading

‘City of icebergs:’ Study says 100s of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

The statistics in her recently published paper say it all: hundreds of… Continue reading

U.S. hits back with WTO challenge against Canada’s retaliatory tariffs

OTTAWA — The United States fired back Monday at the Canadian government’s… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month