Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli took the first step in suing former PC leader Patrick Brown for statements in his recent book that a member of the group made a complaint of improper sexual behavior on Fedeli.
In his book Takedown: Patrick Brown's assassination attempt, published in November, Brown says a female employee left him a note accusing Fedeli of "misbehavior" in December 2017.
Fedeli's lawyers served both Brown and the publisher of Optimum Publishing International with a legal document called "notification of intent," a requirement before prosecuting for defamation.
The notice requires Brown and the editor to dismiss contentious statements and apologize to Fedeli.
"I received a letter from the lawyer asking my editor to remove the reference To drop which mentions a complaint of sexual misconduct was made against Vic Fedeli, "Brown said in a text message Wednesday.
Brown called the complaint "disconcerting, since CBC has independently verified that a complaint was actually made."
Although CBC News did not see the woman's handwritten note, her lawyer told CBC News last year that she complained formally about Fedeli's behavior.
Fedeli did not respond on Wednesday to requests for comments. In November, immediately after the book was published, he called the charges "categorically false and without any merit."
"Facts related to Brown's lack of credibility are well documented and publicly recorded, as well as his motivations in using his book to seek out old grievances," Fedeli said in a statement at the time, adding that he was "prepared to take it forward." whatever action is required to hold anyone responsible for making such false allegations accountable. "
In his book, Brown does not give specific details about the woman's complaint against Fedeli. He writes about it immediately after mentioning Fedeli's public statements about allegations of sexual misconduct that forced Brown to resign last January.
"I was struck by Fedeli's chivalrous and saintly attitude, since he knew very well that he himself might have avoided a bullet," Brown writes.
"In December 2017, I received a handwritten note from a person who worked for the party. On the same note, she accused Fedeli of misconduct," continues Brown. "Fedeli was informed that I intended to investigate this matter. I also sent a strong message to him that he should not contact or be close to this individual."
Brown writes that he talked to the woman, but that she did not want investigation.
"Nothing she claimed in her note has ever been tried in court or has ever gone to court," Brown writes.
Brown publisher Dean Baxendale said on Wednesday that his company was surprised by Fedeli's demand for a retraction and an apology.
"We are not alleging anything against Mr. Fedeli in the book and we simply provided a story that illustrated the author's perceived hypocrisy at Queen's Park," Baxendale said in a statement.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath asked in November for an independent investigation into the allegation against Fedeli.
Premier Doug Ford told the Legislature that a third party investigation into Fedeli had already been completed, and did not disclose "a piece of evidence" against the finance minister.