TORONTO — Ontario's Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown is "categorically'' denying what he describes as "troubling allegations'' about his conduct and his character, saying he will defend himself in the court of law.
A visibly emotional Brown said late Wednesday that he was made aware of the allegations hours earlier, but did not provide details on what those allegations are.
CTV News tweeted that two women have come forward with graphic sexual misconduct allegations against Brown. The broadcaster said the alleged incidents date back to when Brown was a federal MP.
More from HuffPost Canada:
"These allegations are false. Every one of them,'' Brown said at a late-night news conference at the legislature.
"I can't speculate on the motive of my accusers, I can only say that what they are saying is categorically untrue.''
This is not who I am.Patrick Brown
Brown said he has instructed his lawyers to ensure that the allegations are addressed in court.
The leader of the Opposition noted that "it's never OK'' for anyone to feel they have been a victim of sexual harassment or feel threatened in any way.
"I reject these accusation in the strongest possible terms,'' Brown said. "This is not how I'm raised. This is not who I am.''
He did not take questions from reporters and left immediately after making his statement.
Shortly after, Brown's chief of staff Alykhan Velshi announced that he and two other staffers had resigned.
The party's press secretary Nick Bergamini, and another staffer, Ken Boessenkool, also announced on Twitter that they would step down.
This evening I learned of allegations against Patrick Brown. As a result, it is in the best interest of the PC Party that he step down immediately.— Nick Bergamini (@nickbergamini) January 25, 2018
As he has chosen to follow a different route, I am resigning as the PC Party Press Secretary.
I learned of these allegations through the media. I will be joining my friends Andrew, Alykhan and Dan in resigning from the Patrick Brown campaign. https://t.co/zIY3QnzEeY— Ken Boessenkool (@KenBoessenkool) January 25, 2018
Brown has been leading in the polls as the province heads to the polls this summer.
He was first elected as federal MP in 2006 as part of the Conservative government after serving as a Barrie city councillor. He was re-elected twice, once in 2008 and again in 2011.
During his time in Ottawa, Brown served as a backbench MP in Stephen Harper's government and has been frequently criticized by political opponents for voting in favour of reopening the abortion debate.
He won the PC leadership in 2015, beating long-time Ontario legislator and favourite Christine Elliott.
Earlier from HuffPost Canada:
Since he has become party leader, Brown has attempted to broaden the appeal of his the party, going as far as to say social conservative issues were off-limits at the PC policy convention last fall.
Brown says he is pro-choice and more recently has led Pride parade delegations.
Read the text of Brown's full statement:
Ladies and gentlemen.
A couple of hours ago, I learned of troubling allegations about my conduct and character.
I'm here tonight to address them.
First, I want to say: these allegations are false. Every one of them.
I will defend myself as hard as I can, with all the means at my disposal.
I can't speculate on the motive of my accusers, I can only say they what they are saying is categorically untrue.
It's never ok for anyone to feel they have been a victim of sexual harassment or feel threatened in any way.
Let me make this clear.
A safe and respectful society is what we expect and deserve.
We need to move forward to eradicate sexual violence and harassment across the province -- across the country. Everywhere.
I know that the court of public opinion moves fast. I have instructed my attorneys to ensure that these allegations are addressed where they should be: in a court of law.
In short, I reject these accusation in the strongest possible terms.
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also released the following statement Wednesday:
Sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment have no place in Canadian society, especially within our political system.
I understand how difficult it can be for women to come forward under these circumstances.
The allegations against the Leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives are extremely serious and should be investigated fully.
With files from Emma Paling