Former Patrick Brown campaign organizer comes forward as whistleblower

By The Canadian Press

A longtime Conservative organizer says Patrick Brown was personally involved in an arrangement that saw her paid by a third-party company for work she did on his leadership campaign.

Debra Jodoin, through her lawyer, released a statement Thursday evening after the party spent the past two days dealing with the fallout from Brown’s disqualification from the race.

The chairman of the party’s leadership election organizing committee said Tuesday its members voted 11 to six to disqualify him from the campaign due to “serious allegations of wrongdoing.”

Brown has maintained he was not provided with details by the party about the accusation against him. He said what the committee was presented with was an anonymous allegation that someone working on his campaign was being paid by a corporation.

While the party hasn’t released details of the allegation, it has said it appeared to contravene financing rules under the Canada Elections Act and came from within Brown’s own campaign.

On Thursday, Jodoin, who describes herself as an experienced organizer who has been involved with the party and its predecessor for more than 20 years, revealed herself to be the whistleblower.

Jodoin said in April 2022, the month after Brown announced he would enter the contest to replace former Tory leader Erin O’Toole, she joined the campaign “at his request” to assist as a regional organizer.

“Mr. Brown told me that it was permissible for me to be employed by a company as a consultant, and then for that company to have me volunteer with the campaign,” she said.

“He connected me by text message with a third-party for that purpose. I trusted him, but as time went on I became increasingly concerned with the arrangement and suspected it was not OK.”

The statement said in June, she asked Brown that the campaign pick up her expenses, saying that he expressed surprise and communicated he was “on it.”

“A corporation paid me and paid for my expenses, not the Brown campaign,” she said.

Her lawyer Jason Beitchman said Jodoin shared her concerns with the party and requested that her identity be kept confidential.

“On that basis, she felt it was her obligation to raise her concerns, and leave it to others to determine what further steps should be taken, if any,” said Beitchman.

“Ms. Jodoin expressly rejects any suggestion that she was coerced or pressured by others to come forward and did so of her own volition.”

RELATED: Tory insider says Brown’s exit raises questions about how ballots will be counted

After Jodoin released her statement Thursday, Brown’s campaign responded, reiterating that the party had an obligation to provide them with the full details of the matter, and said they only learned those through the media.

“Once Ms. Jodoin provided information, it was the obligation of the Conservative Party to conduct themselves fairly and transparently,” read a statement circulated by campaign spokesman Chisholm Pothier.

It said what typically happens over the course of a campaign, where thousands of people are involved, is that issues arise that are directed to the campaign in question to fix.

“Unfortunately, that didn’t happen in this case because of course that was not the goal. The goal was to disqualify Patrick Brown from the leadership race and narrow the field.”

Brown himself has accused the party’s top officials of pushing him out of the race as a way to advantage his main rival, longtime Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre.

Poilievre’s campaign had said the allegation did not come from them.

The allegation that led to Brown’s ousting was presented to them last week and was the subject of letter exchanges between it and the party.

Pothier posted a section from a letter he said the campaign sent to the party’s election organizing committee last week in response to concerns it had. He said it identifies the situation involving Jodoin.

The letter says it was Jodoin who approached Brown asking for work on his campaign. It says there was none at the time and Brown referred her to a friend of his, who was also a supporter.

The campaign said it was Brown’s understanding that Jodoin was volunteering for him outside of the work she was doing for his friend.

The campaign said if that hadn’t been the case, it was prepared to reimburse the amount, which it understood to be less than $10,000. The campaign said it wasn’t aware of similar instances.

Canada’s elections commissioner confirmed Thursday it is reviewing information related to Brown’s sudden ousting from the race, but — citing privacy — wouldn’t divulge the nature or details of what it received.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the allegation against Brown included documents and text messages.

Since his removal, Brown has gone on the attack against the party, saying he wasn’t made aware of the details of the allegations he faced and that his campaign did its best to respond.

He has since hired high-profile lawyer Marie Henein as his legal counsel, who requested the party and those involved in deciding to remove him prepare for anticipated legal action.

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