TORONTO - They feel used, abused and double-crossed.
And if Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown does not address this with some core supporters who helped him beat Christine Elliott for the leadership last year, they plan to ramp up efforts to try to force him out even before the next election.
Some are not even waiting.
“Brown should step down, or else face a leadership review before the 2018 general election,” said Jack Fonseca, of Campaign Life Coalition, one of several socially conservative groups whose supporters purchased memberships to thrust him to victory.
Now they feel like stooges.
“We helped him by signing up 6,000 members to the party and we noticed Patrick did not shred them up,” said Fonseca, the CLC’s political strategist.
He cites email exchanges between him and Brown that “show how he felt then compared to now.”
Says Fonseca: “An email from Patrick Brown to a national pro-life organization reveals that the PC leader was untruthful when, after his third flip-flop on the controversial sex curriculum, he implied to journalists over and over that he always supported the curriculum and never intended to repeal it.
“The email, sent during the PC leadership campaign, by Patrick Brown from his personal email account to Campaign Life Coalition, promised to scrap the Liberal sex-ed curriculum: ‘I will repeal it! I say that everywhere,’ promised the aspiring PC leadership candidate.”
After his original flip-flop, he eventually supported Wynne’s controversial sex-ed curriculum.
That did not go over well.
But his flip-flop sequel has those opposed to the new curriculum screaming for action.
During the byelection campaign in Scarborough Rouge River, Brown signed a letter saying he was reversing his reversal and would scrap the curriculum — only to pen a mea culpa in the liberal Toronto Star, of all places, saying this letter should not have gone out and was not what he believed.
This, even though anti-sex ed independent candidate Queenie Yu produced emails from the campaign and Brown’s chief of staff with a heads up the letter was coming.
None of it is fooling Fonseca.
“That email — dated April 30, 2015 — contradicts Brown’s recent statements to reporters that imply that he never wanted to scrap the curriculum, but rather that he has always supported it. He has suggested that the only problem he ever really had with it was the inadequate consultation with parents by the Liberals.
“He has revealed himself to be a dishonest, two-faced political huckster,” Fonseca said.
Earlier, Canada Christian College president Charles McVety called for Brown to step down, since much of his support came from people agreeing with his earlier stance to kill the new curriculum.
He has also cited Brown appearing on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin espousing that view.
Brown has other issues as well. The party has major debt that sources say is not shrinking, and riding association people tell me they want more decisiveness and consistency from Brown, who has been saying in radio interviews he is attempting to “build a modern PC party.”
In a statement from Brown sent to me on Monday night, he said his views on the sex-ed curriculum have “evolved.”
“I’m sorry that Mr. Fonseca and members of his group are upset. But I’m running to lead all Ontarians.
“And while I stand for consultation, it doesn’t mean opening the door to intolerance.”
He said if people don’t like that, they can “vote for someone else.”
My feeling is Brown should not gloss over this issue — or that he favours tax on carbon emissions like the Wynne Liberals do. If he wants to be a Liberal, join them. But a conservative leader is supposed to be just that.
Doug Ford, Frank Klees and Lisa MacLeod are names being floated as potential replacements, but as of right now Brown is the elected party leader.
The different stances and change of course on the sex-ed curriculum speak volumes, Fonseca said.
“What voter — whether a social conservative or of the left-leaning variety — can possibly trust this man on any issue, be it his approach to carbon taxes, or restoring PC relations with public service unions? He backstabbed the party’s social conservative base after promising to advance our cause. Why wouldn’t he backstab others to whom he made promises?” he said.
They feel cheated on.
WHAT CURRICULUM OPPONENTS SAY
Social conservatives and some parents have raised concerns about the updated sex-ed curriculum, which the Wynne Liberals argue is necessary given children’s access to social media and the Internet.
Opponents of the curriculum, including Jack Fonseca, Jotvinder Sodhi, Queenie Yu and Charles McVety, have said it:
• Is age-inappropriate, teaching too much too early.
• Is too explicit and detailed.
• Could encourage children into sexual experimentation.
• Usurps parents’ roles in sexual education.
• Goes around moral, religious and cultural values of some parents.
• Was changed under the direction of former deputy education minister Benjamin Levin, who pleaded guilty to child-pornography offences in 2015.
Opponents of the curriculum say they feel certain topics are being introduced with detail that goes beyond what kids should be learning at that age, such as introducing gender identity theory in Grade 3, discussing masturbation in Grade 6, and the risks associated with oral and anal sex in Grade 7.
“No one is against sex education for children, but it should not be as the curriculum is written,” McVety said.