It has been a tumultuous week for the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, as both the former leader Patrick Brown and President Rick Dysktra have stepped down amidst allegations of sexual harassment and assault.
Brown resigned his post last Wednesday following the emergence of allegations that when he worked as a member of federal Parliament, he engaged in sexual misconduct with two women. Brown was replaced by MPP Vic Fedeli, who will serve as the interim leader of the party.
An election will be held to determine the next leader of the party going into the 2018 Ontario elections. Although typically interim leaders are barred from running, the PC caucus has allowed Fedeli to compete for the position. Doug Ford, former Toronto mayoral candidate and brother of the late Rob Ford, has also announced his intention to run.
On Sunday evening, Rick Dykstra, president of the Ontario party since 2016, also resigned amidst allegations against him of sexual assault. Dykstra took to Twitter to announce his resignation. Previously, Dykstra ignited controversy when he was accused in 2015 of buying underage women alcohol at a local St. Catharines bar. More recently, a women who worked as a PC staffer filed a police report against Dykstra in 2014, alleging Dykstra sexually assaulted her.
In response to the assault and harassment allegations, Niagara West MPP and PC party member Sam Oosterhoff tweeted the following statement:
“The allegations brought forward against Rick Dykstra are shocking and serious. There is no place for sexual misconduct in our party, in politics, or in society as a whole. We must ensure our workplaces are safe and that everyone feels comfortable coming forward to share their stories. My thanks go to the brave women who have come forward this past week. All men must be held – and hold themselves – to a higher level of respect and integrity. This abuse must end.”
At 19, Oosterhoff was the youngest Ontario MPP ever to be elected. Before his election to Queen’s Park, Oosterhoff was a political science student at Brock University.