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PC party has stopped paying the rent for former leader Patrick Brown’s downtown condo

Brown has a home north of Barrie on Lake Simcoe that he purchased in 2016 and often rents out to friends.

Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown's house just outside of Barrie. Brown has been an MP or MPP in the Barrie area since 2006.

Torstar News Service

Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown's house just outside of Barrie. Brown has been an MP or MPP in the Barrie area since 2006.

The Progressive Conservatives have stopped paying the rent for Patrick Brown’s posh Bay St. condo following the former leader’s resignation over sexual misconduct allegations he denies.

“The party will no longer be providing this payment,” Heather McCarthy, a senior aide in Brown’s Simcoe North constituency office, said Thursday in an email to the Star on his behalf.

Brown will now have to use the taxpayer-funded MPPs’ monthly allowance of $1,876.50 toward the rent in the new high-rise building, where suites go for as much as $3,000 a month.

“The rent is now being switched over to the Legislature,” McCarthy said.

The decision comes as interim PC Leader Vic Fedeli has vowed to “root out any rot” in the party, which has led to an exodus of officials and staff and investigations into spending practices during the Brown era.

There is also an audit of the party’s membership list, which Brown boasted last month had 200,224 names, to ensure the March 10 leadership race to replace him is “clean and fair.”

Fedeli revealed last weekend the latest tally is 127,743 members, with the final number expected to be closer to 75,000 members once additional duplicates and fraudulent names are weeded out, party sources say.

It is not unusual for political parties to subsidize their leaders’ expenses.

For example, former PC Ernie Eves and former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty received financial help.

In McGuinty’s case, the Liberals purchased a house in Toronto’s Yonge-Summerhill neighbourhood for the then-premier and his family to live in. It turned out to be a wise investment — the Grits doubled their money when they sold it.

The Brown condo is a short walk from Queen’s Park in a corner unit on an upper floor near the University of Toronto’s St. Michael’s College with a sweeping view southwest toward the Legislature.

He also owns a fallback property — a sprawling waterfront house on Lake Simcoe’s popular Shanty Bay that he purchased for $2.3 million in July 2016 and rents out to friends to defray mortgage costs.

With five bedrooms, three bathrooms, an original fieldstone fireplace and a three-car garage, the Nantucket-style home a short drive north of Barrie has 4,225 square feet of “well appointed living space” according to a real estate agent’s listing from two years ago.

Publicly available documents from Service Ontario show Brown, who earned $180,866 as PC leader last year and now makes $116,500 as an MPP, took out a $1,725,000 mortgage on the property.

The mortgage, which McCarthy said is with TD Canada Trust, is at a competitive rate for five years.

“Patrick does rent his residence…but income from the rental of the property never exceeds expenses,” said McCarthy. “It is no longer on Airbnb. It is now only rented to his friends.”

According to filings released Thursday by Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner on income and assets for all MPPs, Brown lists his legislative salary as his sole source of income. His assets include a 9.9 per cent stake in the popular downtown Barrie sports restaurant and bar Hooligans, up from 7 per cent a year ago.

“Patrick’s interest in Hooligans increased when one of the partners dropped out,” McCarthy said.

Hooligans is on Barrie’s main downtown street with a rooftop patio overlooking Kempenfelt Bay and has the largest TV screen north of Toronto, making it a major draw for sporting events from Hockey Night in Canada to the Super Bowl.

Brown told the Star in November that the restaurant, in which he is a silent partner with a group of old friends, is where he goes to hang out and escape from politics.

Brown has not returned repeated messages from the Star seeking comment.

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