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

Sunny weather improves farmers’ prospects

A harvester kicking up dust. It’s a picture that will bring a… Continue reading

Rural transit pilot project being considered

Penhold, Innisfail and Red Deer County councils to decide whether to go ahead with project

Red Deer fire station up for sale

Home sweet home at Fire Station 4

Most surveyed Innisfail residents give urban chickens the thumbs up

Town of Innisfail will discuss whether to allow backyard chickens on Monday

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Sky’s the limit as Calgary opens testing area for drones and new technologies

CALGARY — The sky’s the limit as the city of Calgary opens… Continue reading

Hi Mickey, ‘Bye Mickey: 6 Disney parks on 2 coasts in 1 day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Heather and Clark Ensminger breathed sighs of relief when… Continue reading

Court weighs ‘Apprentice’ hopeful’s suit versus Trump

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s lawyers hope to persuade an appeals… Continue reading

StarKist admits fixing tuna prices, faces $100 million fine

SAN FRANCISCO — StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony… Continue reading

Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed more than expected in… Continue reading

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

CALGARY — A jury has convicted a Calgary couple in the death… Continue reading

Study of U.S. hospital figures links pot use with increased risk of stroke

MONTREAL — New research is being presented at a conference in Montreal… Continue reading

Most Read