Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is saluting the courage of the women who have levied allegations of sexual misconduct against the former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party.
Patrick Brown resigned as leader overnight after CTV News reported that two women have come forward with graphic sexual misconduct allegations against Brown while he was a federal MP — allegations he denies.
"We take these allegations extremely seriously whenever they come up," Trudeau said Thursday. "My thoughts turn immediately to the women who came forward knowing how difficult it can be, to salute them for their courage, and their leadership."
Trudeau said he hopes the women who have spoken out about Brown retain support among their friends, families and communities at large.
"I certainly hope their example will resonate."
'No place' for sexual misconduct in politics, society: Scheer
Brown was a Conservative backbencher under Prime Minister Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2015, when he stepped down to run for leader of the Ontario PC party.
Current federal party leader Andrew Scheer said the allegations against Brown must be investigated fully.
"Sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment have no place in Canadian society, especially within our political system," Scheer said in a statement.
Trudeau has repeatedly said his government has zero-tolerance for sexual misconduct, and he used his keynote address at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week to urge companies and politicians to do more to confront the problem.
"Me Too, Times Up, the Women's March — these movements tell us that we need to have a critical discussion on women’s rights, equality, and the power dynamics of gender," Trudeau said Tuesday. "Sexual harassment, for example — in business and in government — is a systemic problem and it is unacceptable. As leaders, we need to act to show that truly, time is up."
Wynne calls for societal vigilance
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne — who faced Brown in a June provincial election prior to the allegations — commented on the allegations late on Thursday afternoon. She, like Trudeau, applauded the courage of the women who came forward with their stories.
In a press statement, she said she was "shocked" by the allegations, and "outraged" that in 2018, the world is still struggling with the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment.
"It was very courageous for them to step forward. In my heart, I hope that they are finding the supports that they need now. They did a very difficult thing, and they've been carrying this for years. There's an impact to them. I hope they are safe. I hope they are surrounded by loved ones today," said Wynne.
"We have to sort this out together. We have to take responsibility. We have to be vigilant."
She said her government recognizes there is more work to do to make all of Ontario a safe place for everyone. While training and education on new procedures at Queen's Park continues, she added, policy alone is not enough.
"Today I stand with all of the people, all over the province, who are trying to create those safe places. I recognize that I am in this with so many people. We all have a responsibility, and will continue to work together to create that safety for you -- whoever you are, and wherever you are in Ontario."
Allegations surface against cabinet minister
After news of Brown broke on Wednesday night, allegations of inappropriate behaviour against federal Liberal MP and cabinet minister Kent Hehr surfaced as well.
A former employee at the Alberta legislature says during Hehr’s time there, women were warned away from being alone with him and he once called her "yummy."
Hehr did not immediately return a request for comment, but the prime minister says he will raise the issue with him Thursday. And he said he’d have more to say about his conversations with Hehr before he leaves Davos later today.
Hehr is the minister of sport and persons with disabilities, and represents a Calgary riding.
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 3:18 p.m. ET on Thurs. Jan. 25. 2018 to include comments from Premier Kathleen Wynne