If Brazeau stays on as an independent Senator, he’ll cost Canadian taxpayers at lease $7-million by the time he retires approximately 37 years from today.
Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau’s charges of assault and sexual assault offer Prime Minister Stephen Harper the opportunity to do the right thing concerning his much-touted plan to reform the Senate. It’s not enough for Harper to eject Brazeau from the Conservative caucus. If we care enough about Canadian democracy and the integrity of its institutions, then Senator Patrick Brazeau must go! He must be recalled from the unelected red chamber.
Brazeau, an Algonquin from the Kitigan Zibi First Nation in Quebec, was arrested at his Gatineau home yesterday for what police then called a “domestic violence dispute”. He appeared in court this morning and was charged with assault and sexual assault.
Harper appointed Brazeau in December, 2008, guaranteeing him a Canadian senator’s annual base salary of $132,300 until he retired at 75. At the time of his appointment, the then National chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, also became the youngest Canadian senator ever. He was only 34. Harper called the Quebecer’s “achievements “distinguished”.
Kory Teneycke, the prime minister’s director of communications, defined Brazeau’s senatorial role as that of “advancing aboriginal issues, as he did at the Congress, within our caucus and as a part of our government.” Then Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said of Brazeau: “I’m sure he’ll do great work. He’s a good man. He will do the right things as he goes forward, and he’ll provide good leadership both on Quebec issues and aboriginal issues.”
Brazeau’s current troubles cap a disgraceful fours years in the Senate:
First: Last June we learned that that Brazeau had the poorest performance record of any member of the Senate in the last session of Parliament. Between June, 2011, and April, 2012 he: a) missed 25 per cent of the chamber’s seatings; b) was absent for 31 per cent of the meetings of the Standing Committee on Human Rights, of which he is a deputy chair; and c) missed 65 per cent of meetings at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, on which he sits.
Second, Brazeau called Ottawa-based reporter, Jennifer Ditchburn, a “bitch” after she’d highlighted his poor attendance record. He immediately issued a “reluctant” apology.
Third: Last June, APTN National News reported that Brazeau faced allegations of sexual harassment and bullying. The Toronto Star reported allegations “before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario”, which involved an unidentified former Congress staffer.
Fourth: Brazeau has reportedly said we don’t need a national inquiry into the case of murdered and missing aboriginal woman in Canada. The Native Women’s Association of Canada estimates that more than 600 have either gone missing or been murdered since 1990. Both the United Nations an Amnesty International have urged the Harper Government to investigate the deaths and disappearances. It’s an issue that was central to my recent hunger strike against Harper’s New Jim Crow–style new crime law, the deceptively named “Safe Streets and Communities Act” or crime Bill C-10.
In an earlier blog post on the Huffington Post, I posited:
Racial caste is alive and well in Canada. There’s a disturbing triumphant racial narrative in our national conversation. We rarely, if ever, discuss racism. Even as stats beg us to. The 2004 General Social Survey noted that Aboriginal women 15 years and older are three and a half times more likely to experience violence than non-Aboriginal women.
Fifth: During a recent fundraiser, Brazeau mocked Chief Theresa Spence for being “fat”. Spence, the Chief of the impoverished northern Ontario reserve of Attawapiskat, had just spend 44 days on a hunger strike demanding a meeting with Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston to discuss Aboriginal socioeconomic issues and the broken Canada-First Nations treaty relationship. The Official Opposition called Brazeau’s comments “disturbing” and misogynistic.
“I think the kind of misogyny, like what, making fat jokes is somehow something funny for the cracker base of the Conservatives?” the New Democrats’ ethics critic Charlie Angus said. “I don’t know what he was talking about, but it seems like an attempt again to ridicule, to attack her because she’s a woman, because she’s First Nations.”
Sixth: Brazeau has consistently bashed the Idle No More movement and Aboriginal leaders. Dr. Pamela Palmater, an indigenous activist and chair in Indigenous Governance at Toronto’s Ryerson University, says #IdleNoMore is pushing back at the Conservatives’ aggressive assimilation agenda. Neither is Brazeau bothered by what Chief Spence once described as Harper’s paternalistic approach towards Aboriginal issues. His diabolical First Nations termination plan.
Seventh: Well after he started receiving his Senate salary, Brazeau continued to collect his six-figure salary as head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. He’d to be persuaded to wake up to the reality that collecting two six-figure public checks was scandalous.
Eighth: The National Post reports that Brazeau “has also been under Senate investigation, along with other senators, over allegations that he may have misused $21,000 in housing allowances.”
Ninth: Brazeau, who drove a Porsche SUV and earned a six-figure salary, reportedly missed on his $100/month child support payments. According to this report.
Tenth: allegations of alcohol abuse.
Eleventh and finally: There’s no evidence that this guy actually earned the six-figure public cheque. December 2, 2009, is the latest of his “Chamber Statements & Speeches“.
In Parliament Thursday, the prime minister confirmed that he’d booted Brazeau out of the Conservative caucus: “I think our understanding is these are matters of a personal nature rather than senate business, but they are very serious and we expect they will be dealt with through the courts.”
These “matters of a personal nature” do have a bearing on the red chamber. On our politics. As iPolitics’ Tasha Kheiriddin observes, these matters raise “obvious questions not only about his character, but about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s judgment in appointing him.”
The Toronto Star’s Tim Harper drives the point home:
(Brazeau) has invited Canadians to once again heap scorn upon a discredited institution but, in this case, Canadians have no one to blame but Harper.
Brazeau could have remained a yappy, self-promoter on the fringe had he not been tapped by a prime minister whose office either didn’t do its homework or
didn’t care. He is now an independent senator sitting in the lock-up and the smart money says he is soon to be an ex-senator.
Brazeau self-identifies as a patriotic Canadian. He is the ugliest of “Ugly Canadians“. If Brazeau stays on as an independent Senator, he’ll cost Canadian taxpayers at lease $7-million by the time he retires approximately 37 years from today.
It’s really no consolation that Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau knocked him out during the Fight for the Cure boxing match last April. This man is rotten beyond redemption. It’s now up to us to summon the courage to say enough is enough.
What say you, Mr. Prime Minister?
Photo credit: Parliament of Canada
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