Meet Patrick Brazeau (pictured), the sexist Canadian senator who called Ottawa-based reporter, Jennifer Ditchburn, a “bitch” yesterday. Her crime: she’d done her job by highlighting his poor attendance record in Canada’s appointed upper house of Parliament. He immediately issued a “reluctant” apology.
Why did Brazeau call a report doing her job a “bitch”? Is it because he’s an ex-soldier? Brazeau served in the Canadian Armed Forces. Is it because he’s a 2nd degree black belt in Karate. Is it..?
Let’s get to know a little more about Brazeau, the Conservative senator Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed in 2008, shall we? After all, he and other senators are supposed to provide a “sober second thought” to legislation passed in the Conservative-dominated House of Commons. And examplary national leadership.
Stats! Damn stats! And personal history:
Brazeau is the youngest senator in the current Senate. The third youngest person ever named to the upper chamber. He’s the fifteenth Aboriginal to be named to the Senate since Confederation in 1867. He has studied “Civil Law” at the University of Ottawa.
He makes upwards of $130,000 as a base salary. Allowances excluded. He’s only 37. So, he’s going to be in the unelected, “democratically-challenged” senate until he’s 75. Around 2049. That’s because our Senators are appointed for life.
Brazeau is incompetent. Very. He has the poorest performance record of any member of the Senate in the current session of Parliament. Between June, 2011, and April, 2012 he:
- missed 25 per cent of the red chamber’s seatings
- was absent for 31 per cent of the meetings of the Standing Committee on Human Rights, of which he is a deputy chair; and
- missed 65 per cent of meetings at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, on which he sits.
Standing Committees are the backbone of… never mind!
Brazeau’s last personal blog posting is dated November 19, 2010. And yet, the blog claims: “This blog is about discussing and debatting hard TRUTHS and FACTS on various issues in an attempt to consider solid SOLUTIONS to build a better CANADA. Note: The views expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Senate of Canada or the Conservative Party of Canada.”
The latest of his “Chamber Statements & Speeches” is dated December 2, 2009. It’s on the issue of the murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada. This issue was central to my recent hunger strike against Harper’s cruel new crime law, the deceptively named “Safe Streets and Communities Act” (formerly crime Bill C-10)
Brazeau’s bio on the official Parliament website tells us the senator is “a champion of the rights of Aboriginal peoples.” He was elected as National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) in February 2006. And re-elected to a four-year term in 2008. And yet, he’s faced fraud allegations relating to the spending of funds received by CAP for aboriginal health programs.
Sexual harassment complaints too. The CBC has reported that a complaint against Brazeau was filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. He faced allegations of inappropriate behaviour toward staff of CAP. A different woman who worked at the CAP office in Ottawa also filed an internal grievance against Brazeau. But Will Menard, a CAP board member from Manitoba, told CBC News that “the board voted not to release the final investigators’ report, but the executive summary said there was inappropriate behaviour.”
Brazeau is a big loser.
During last March’s charity boxing match to raise money for the Fight for the Cure, Liberal MP, Justin Trudeau, clobbered him with a technical knockout. After the fight, Brazeau faced further humiliation. As per an earlier bet between the fighters, the Tory senator had his locks chopped off in the foyer of the House of Commons. Historically, First Nations warriors cut their hair as a sign of shame. As if that wasn’t enough, Brazeau had to wear a Liberal jersey for a week.
Curiously, the Parliament website touts Brazeau’s past achievements with CAP and Aboriginal politics. And his commitment to “accountability”, “transparency”, “personal responsibility”, et cetera.
Patrick used his tenure in Aboriginal politics to promote the economic and social development of Aboriginal peoples, especially those who live off-reserve. Equally important to Patrick’s endeavours was the protection of Aboriginal and human rights.
As National Chief, Patrick was a vocal proponent of the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which granted the same protective measures for human rights to citizens living under the Indian Act as all other Canadians had enjoyed since 1978.
Patrick is a vigorous advocate of accountability, responsibility and transparency in Aboriginal affairs. He is vocal proponent for the replacement of the Indian Act with more progressive legislation that aims to reconstitute true Indian Nations – such as the Mohawk, Cree, Algonquin and Ojibwa nations, to name but a few – and to reflect the tenets of modern-day governance.
Perhaps most importantly, Patrick believes in a strong sense of personal responsibility for one’s own future. He feels strongly about self-sufficiency for Aboriginal peoples at both the individual and community levels. Patrick is a strong advocate for youth participation in the parliamentary process.
Above all, Patrick is a proud Canadian, a determined federalist and a staunch advocate for national unity across this country.
Sorry, but Brazeau is a disgrace to Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. To Canada. Especially to young Aboriginals who face tremendous hardships as a result of Harper’s new tough-on-crime approach.
Aboriginals constitute 4 per cent of the Canadian population, but up to 22 per cent of the country’s prison population. Most of the inmates are incarcerated for crimes rooted in poverty, economic inequality, lack of opportunity, inadequate social services and historical prejudice. Harper and the Conservatives are practising a New Jim Crow–style racism with tough-on-the-vulnerable laws? With the laws’ inevitable mega jails?
What kind of society are we allowing ourselves to become when we chose not to stand up against Harper? And his appointments. And draconian laws? The Safe Streets and Communities Act legalizes racial discrimination in every aspect of social, economic and political life. Felons are discriminated against in access to education, the right to vote, employment, and public benefits.
Who will speak for Aboriginal and other marginalized communities? Who will provide real Canadian leadership during this critical moment when Canadian democracy is steeped in it’s greatest hour of need? Certainly, not the under-performing Senator Patrick Brezeau!
- New senator faces allegations over conduct as chief of aboriginal group: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/01/07/brazeau-senate.html
- New senator lagged on $100 child support: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/585027
- Senator resigns from native congress: http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/568616
- Sen. Brazeau dismisses ‘personal attacks: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20090208/senator_brazeau_090208/