TORONTO — Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown promised a social conservative supporter in an email last year that he would repeal the Liberals’ sex-ed curriculum — a position he has denied ever taking.
“I will repeal it!” Brown wrote during the party’s 2015 leadership race in an email to Jack Fonseca, with Campaign Life Coalition. “I say that everywhere.”
Brown wrote that then-leadership opponent Christine Elliott “thinks I am wrong for party given mine and (MPP Monte McNaughton’s) opposition to sex education.”
Fonseca said he also heard Brown make the promise to repeal out loud to others.
“Indeed he did say that everywhere when he spoke to groups and individuals and social conservative leaders,” Fonseca said. “He told them all he would repeal it.”
It appears to contradict assertions Brown has made recently, that a letter distributed during a recent byelection under his name promising to “scrap” the curriculum did not reflect his views.
When asked last week when his views on sex ed changed, Brown said he has always taken a “middle of the road” approach, criticizing the government for not consulting parents enough, but not on the need for the curriculum.
Brown has said he was livid to see his name attached to that position and disavowed it, but emails from his chief of staff appear to suggest the Progressive Conservative leader was aware of the promise.
During the fall-out from the controversial letter, Brown wrote in an op-ed that the local byelection campaign office had gone “too far” in writing that he would scrap the curriculum. But emails obtained by The Canadian Press show Brown’s chief of staff, Nicolas Pappalardo, distributed the letter the day before it became public.
And in an email from the week before Brown said he became aware of the letter, Pappalardo wrote that Brown himself “was prepared” to make a statement saying, “If elected, a PC Government would introduce a new curriculum after thoughtful and full consultation with parents.”
By backtracking on his promise to scrap the Liberals’ sex-ed curriculum, Brown has betrayed social conservatives, Fonseca said.
“He’s a politician … who doesn’t stand for much at all — it’s whatever the political winds lead him to believe will bring him more power or help him maintain power,” he said.
“I think he’s an amateur. I think he doesn’t know what the heck he’s doing.”
Fonseca said he has “no doubt” Brown knew about the controversial letter before it went out.
Brown’s office did not comment on the latest developments.
The new curriculum included updates such as warnings about online bullying and sexting, but protesters have taken issue with discussions of same-sex marriage, masturbation and gender identity.
A coalition of groups that oppose the curriculum is planning a rally at the legislature Wednesday, with MP Brad Trost, who has said he will run for leadership of the federal Conservative party, as one of several “special guest speakers.”