Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli will let his name stand as interim leader of the Progressive Conservative party after Patrick Brown stepped down as leader following sexual misconduct allegations. Fedeli announced his intention during a news conference in North Bay early Thursday afternoon. Fedeli says he’s ready to accept whatever his fellow MPPs decide and adds he has a lot of support from his colleagues. “They say it’s your time Vic, you’re the person to do this,” the Tory finance critic told local media. “I’ll respect the decision of caucus and let my name stand. And if that’s what caucus chooses, then I look forward to leading us forward.”
However what’s still not clear and remains unknown is if an interim leader can lead the P.C. party into the next election. Fedeli said members of the party executive were still studying that issue Thursday afternoon and may still be debating it Friday morning. The executive is also considering does the interim leader have to come from caucus because another candidate being bandied about is Caroline Mulroney, the daughter of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Mulroney is not an MPP but is a Tory candidate in a Toronto riding. When asked if it was possible to hold a leadership vote before the June election filled with potential leadership candidates, Fedeli said many people would be of the opinion that it’s not possible given the short time frame.
Meanwhile Fedeli said he hasn’t spoken to Brown since the sexual allegations broke Wednesday night and although he’s stepped down as leader, Fedeli said it’s up to Brown to decide if he will also step down as an MPP. He did note however, that there are no charges against Brown, nor is there a police investigation. As for the allegations, Fedeli said like many people he was horrified, shocked and surprised to learn about them. He also said it wasn’t his intention to dismiss the allegations but considering a provincial election is only five months away, the party members also need to focus on defeating the governing Liberals.
The caucus meeting to pick an interim leader begins at 9:00am Friday. Fedeli says it’s anyone’s guess how long it will last, but stresses it will end with an interim leader being chosen.