New PC Leader Patrick Brown makes first speech in Ontario legislature

TORONTO – New Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown will resign his seat in the House of Commons Wednesday, but he has yet to comment on how he plans to secure a seat in the provincial legislature.

“My first priority has been to be here at Queen’s Park, to meet with caucus, to make sure that we’re all focused and united in the same direction,” Brown said Monday. “Certainly, at some point in the new future, I would like to enter the provincial legislature, and at a later date we’ll announce plans to that effect.”

The 36-year-old MP from Barrie, Ont., said he doesn’t plan to change any of the PC critics’ jobs until after the legislature rises for the summer in early June, and will live in a Toronto hotel until then while looking for a new home in the city.

Brown, who defeated deputy PC leader Christine Elliott to win the leadership on Saturday, won’t have any income after resigning his seat in Parliament. He said he’s had no discussions with his party about some form of financing to help pay his bills until he does win a seat in the Ontario legislature.

“I’m not worried about that at this point,” he said.

Brown addressed the legislature Monday to give his party’s reaction to a speech by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, and unlike most of his predecessors as PC leader, Brown delivered his remarks in French.

His praise of Couillard for Quebec’s commitment to a balanced budget and its low electricity prices didn’t sit well with some Liberals, but he dismissed the criticism.

“If the Liberals feel that a compliment about a balanced budget and low energy rates is an attack on their record, well maybe that’s something they need to think about,” said Brown.

The vast majority of the PC caucus at Queen’s Park supported Elliott’s leadership bid, but Brown insisted the party won’t have any trouble uniting behind him.

“I spoke to almost everyone yesterday and I said that we’ve got to come together as a family, and I’d say everyone was in agreement on that fact,” he said. “I told people that worked hard for Christine Elliott that I admired their work and I’m excited to have them by my side now.”

Brown said he also hoped to meet each Tory caucus member in person, but had not yet spoken to Elliott, who was not in the legislature Monday.

“I am hoping to meet her as quickly as possible,” he said.

Premier Kathleen Wynne congratulated Brown on his victory, and said she wouldn’t do anything to prevent him from trying to win a seat by delaying a byelection call after an MPP resigns, but warned the Liberals won’t give him a free pass either.

“I have no interest in keeping the leader of the Opposition out of the legislature,” she said. “Will we contest the byelection? Yes.”

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