|Senator from Quebec|
January 8, 2009
|Nominated by||Stephen Harper|
|Appointed by||David Johnston|
|Preceded by||Marisa Ferretti Barth|
November 11, 1974 |
|Political party||Independent Senators Group|
|Independent Conservative 2013-2016
Conservative Party 2009-2013
|Profession||Senator, Strip club manager|
Patrick Brazeau (born November 11, 1974) is a Canadian senator, who until February 7, 2013, was sitting with the Conservative Party. At the age of 42, he was the youngest member of the Senate. From February 2006 until January 2009 he held the position of national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Brazeau was expelled from the Conservative caucus following his February 7, 2013 arrest for domestic assault and sexual assault. Brazeau is currently employed as day manager of an Ottawa strip club called the BareFax. On September 15, 2015, Brazeau pleaded guilty to simple assault and cocaine possession as part of a plea deal in which other assault charges were dropped, and he was acquitted of sexual assault.
On October 28, 2015, he was granted an absolute discharge by Quebec Court Judge Valmont Beaulieu; hence, he will not be incarcerated and will avoid having a criminal record. However, The Globe and Mail newspaper reports that "Brazeau remains suspended from the upper chamber, and his salary is being clawed back to repay nearly $50,000 in disallowed housing expense claims."
Life and career
Brazeau is an Algonquin from the Kitigan Zibi reserve near Maniwaki. He worked at HMCS Carleton, a Royal Canadian Naval Reserve unit based in Ottawa that operates under the Canadian Forces Maritime Command. Brazeau earned a Quebec College Diploma in social sciences from CEGEP Heritage College (Gatineau) and has studied, but dropped out of civil law at the University of Ottawa.
Fluent in both official Canadian languages, English and French, Brazeau's language preference is French.
Brazeau joined the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) in 2001 and was elected vice-chief in April 2005. He acted as national chief from February 2006 until his election later in November of the same year. He is a member of CAP's affiliate, Alliance Autochtone du Quebec Inc. also known as the Native Alliance of Quebec, or the AAQ or NAQ.
Brazeau pursued a very vocal strategy to obtain repeal of Section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act as his CAP vision. His position was that Section 67 impeded the individual human rights of aboriginals by its insistence that communal Indian Act rights superseded the CHRA. In this position he was supported by editorials of the National Post and the Globe and Mail. Brazeau endorsed passage of Bill C-21 as a step toward reform of Aboriginal governance, suggesting on 20 June 2008 that the extension of human rights protection “will ultimately lead to the dismantling of the Indian Act.”
On March 31, 2012, Brazeau lost in a celebrity boxing match to Liberal MP (and future Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau. Brazeau has stated that he would like a rematch with Trudeau but Trudeau declined to participate in another boxing match.
On May 30, 2015, Brazeau acted as a guest referee at a Great North Wrestling event at the Earl Armstrong Arena in Ottawa. Brazeau ended up getting bodyslammed through a table during the course of the match.
In the early hours of January 19, 2016, Brazeau was admitted to hospital in critical but stable condition after he was found seriously injured in his home. The Quebec provincial police issued a statement indicating Brazeau's injuries did not appear related to criminal activity, and the Hull hospital released a statement saying his injuries were treated by successful surgery and were not considered life threatening.
On February 24, 2016, reports came out that Brazeau was hospitalized because of a suicide attempt in his house.
Brazeau was criticized for stating his intention to accept a seat in the Senate and concurrently remain national chief of the CAP thus collecting two publicly funded six-figure salaries; a decision from which he subsequently retreated by resigning as CAP chief. He has also come under fire over a sexual harassment complaint made against him to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and for allegedly condoning heavy drinking during business hours. Brazeau resigned from his position of national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples on January 9, 2009, issuing the following statement on the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples' website:
In December 2008, I was honoured by my nomination to the Senate of Canada by the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper. Such an appointment is a great privilege and affords me the considerable opportunity to continue my public service to Canada. My goal is and has always been to serve Canada’s Aboriginal peoples and my country to the best of my skills and abilities, in a manner that is accountable, responsible and transparent. I am committed to bringing this same discipline to my role as a Senator in the Parliament of Canada. To this end, I have decided to step down from my position as National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples effective immediately. I am eager to fully embrace my new role and to contribute to the important work of the Senate of Canada. I am committed to continuing my advancement of Aboriginal issues and opportunities across Canada. Further, I relish the opportunity to build upon the achievements of Prime Minister Harper’s government.
Use of CAP funds
In addition, he has faced allegations regarding the spending of funds received by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples for aboriginal health programs. The Globe and Mail reported on January 19, 2009, that Health Canada auditors rejected almost $260,000 in congress expenses out of a budget of $472,900 allocated to the congress by the ministry, alleging that much of the money had been spent on board meetings where health issues were not discussed. Conservative Party spokesman Kory Teneycke indicated that the alleged misspending occurred before Brazeau became chief of the organization, and that Brazeau took steps to address the problem once he took over the leadership.
Senate attendance record
On June 26, 2012, Brazeau came under fire after attacking Canadian Press journalist Jennifer Ditchburn via his official Twitter account. Brazeau publicly called Ditchburn a "bitch" after she reported on his poor Senate attendance record. Brazeau did in fact have poor attendance on the Senate floor: the Senate attendance register showed that he was absent for 25% of the Senate's 72 sittings between June 2011 and April 2012. He was also absent for 31% of the meetings of the human rights committee, where he is deputy-chair, and for 65% of meetings at the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, on which he sits.
Without the knowledge of his ex-wife's father, Brazeau used Daryl Tenasco's address at Kitigan Zibi, Quebec for the purpose obtaining an aboriginal income tax exemption from 2004 to 2008. Kitigan Zibi Chief Gilbert Whiteduck said: “Normally you have income tax exemption when you live on a reserve and you are employed by a reserve.” Neighbours said it did not appear that Brazeau lived in the community. According to Jean Guy Whiteduck “I’ve never seen him, it’s right across from my place. I’ve never seen him there. He may have visited. That’s about it."
On February 28, 2013, the Senate committee of Internal Economy announced that Brazeau, along with fellow senators Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy, and Mac Harb, would be subject to a forensic audit to determine appropriateness of their expense claims.
Deloitte accountants Timm and Stewart conducted an independent audit and came to the conclusion that Brazeau had made no false claims and reached no conclusions as to whether he met the Senate’s definition of primary residence because there was none. The audit document can be found in Senate papers dated 7 May 2013 and can be said to be an indictment of vague (to the point of meaningless) policies:
2.1.2. There is a lack of clarity in the terminology used for the different residences mentioned or discussed in the applicable regulations and guidelines. The following terms are used without being clearly defined: primary residence, secondary residence, NCR residence, provincial residence. In addition, the term registered residence is not defined.
2.1.3. The regulations and guidelines applicable during the period of our examination do not include criteria for determining “primary residence”. As such, we are not able to assess the status of the primary residence declared by Senator Brazeau against existing regulations and guidelines.
Undeterred by the conclusions of Deloitte, the Senate's Subcommittee on Living Allowances, chaired by Senator Elizabeth Marshall with Senators Comeau and Campbell, then ignored selected parts of the Deloitte audit and wrote their own conclusions for the Internal Economy committee, who then recommended on 9 May to the entire Senate, after several secret sessions, that he be ordered to reimburse a minimum of $51,482 in expense money. "Liberal Senator Mac Harb and Independent Senator Patrick Brazeau must immediately repay inappropriately claimed expenses or the Senate will seize the funds," said Marjory LeBreton, the then-current Leader of the Government in the Senate. A spokeswoman from LeBreton's office said Brazeau's pay may be withheld as a means of recovering the funds. Brazeau challenged the internal economy committee's order.
On August 1, 2013, in an affidavit filed in an Ottawa court, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police alleged that Brazeau inappropriately claimed his father’s home in Maniwaki as his primary residence in order to claim a $22,000 a year taxpayer funded housing allowance. The affidavit said that Brazeau actually resided in a rented Gatineau home right across the Ottawa river from his workplace, while claiming the housing allowance for living in Maniwaki. CTV news employee Robert Fife reported that the RCMP investigation revealed that Brazeau was being investigated for breach of trust. Brazeau later singled out Fife in his Senate farewell speech on 4 November 2013.
Chief Theresa Spence
Brazeau was criticized for mocking Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence at a Conservative fundraiser in an Ottawa suburb on 29 January 2013. In an audio recording from the event provided to CTV News by Metroland Media, Brazeau is heard stating publicly "Oh, poor Theresa Spence. Oh, poor her," in regards to the six-week-long hunger strike that the aboriginal leader had recently ended. The hunger strike was aimed to force a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General of Canada David Johnston to discuss aboriginal treaty rights and socioeconomic issues.
Brazeau was also critical of the Idle No More movement, saying that he felt many Canadian aboriginals simply expected to be supported by taxpayers. The recording also revealed Brazeau stating "To sit back, wait for the government to give me handouts. Maybe be on welfare, maybe drink, maybe take up drugs", in regards to aboriginal Canadians. He later returned to the subject of dismantling the Indian Act when he added "The best way to get our land back is to buy it back. Just like every other Canadian."
Brazeau also insinuated in the recording that Spence had actually gained weight during her "so-called hunger strike".
Legal troubles and suspension from Senate
On February 7, 2013, scarcely nine days after the Spence incident, Brazeau was arrested for an incident relating to domestic violence. He was charged with assault and sexual assault in Gatineau court house the next day. After a short court appearance Brazeau was released on $1000 bail on the condition he not go within 150 metres of the victim's work or home. Government Senate Leader Marjory LeBreton later announced that, pending a resolution to Brazeau's legal situation, the Senator will be removed from the Conservative caucus and barred from taking his seat, although the Senator will still be paid his full salary.
April 10, 2014, the day before a trial was to be set, police allege that he was intoxicated and got into an altercation with a woman. They arrested him on new charges of assault, cocaine possession, uttering threats and breach of bail conditions. He has pleaded not guilty.
In October 13, 2014, Brazeau was charged with intoxicated driving. An officer investigated an unconscious Brazeau as he parked and was seated behind the steering wheel and he detected a strong scent of liquor. Brazeau tested for .16 BAC at the police station. He is officially charged with:violating bail conditions and intoxicated driving. A knife was found in his vehicle, and he was charged with weapons possession violating bail conditions. Brazeau was court ordered to two months of detox rehabilitation as he awaits trial.
On September 15, 2015, Brazeau pleaded guilty to simple assault and possessing cocaine as part of a plea bargain in which he was acquitted of sexual assault. The simple assault plea was connected to the February 2013 assault, and the cocaine possession plea was connected to the April 2014, for which the assault charges were dropped after the plea deal. The October 2014 impaired driving charges are still outstanding as of the guilty plea.
On October 28, 2015, he was granted an unconditional discharge by the Quebec Court but will remain suspended from the Senate. However, he still faces a criminal trial for fraud and breach of trust arising from his Senate expenses, scheduled to take place in March 2016, according to the Globe and Mail.
Suspension from and return to Senate
Since Brazeau was facing charges of assault and sexual assault, the Senate voted to suspend him on 12 February 2013. The motion stated that "in order to protect the dignity and reputation of the Senate and public trust and confidence in Parliament, the Senate order a leave of absence for the Honourable Senator Brazeau to last until this order is rescinded". On 5 November 2013, the Senate voted to suspend Brazeau, along with fellow Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, for the remainder of the session, likely until the next federal election in 2015. The Senate also cut their salaries and use of office resources. The specific motion to suspend Brazeau without pay was voted on as follows: 50 yeas, 29 nays, and 13 abstentions. It marked the first time in Senate history that a senator had been sanctioned over expenses without being convicted of a criminal offence. With the early election call by Prime Minister Harper on August 2, 2015, Senators Brazeau, Duffy and Wallen recommenced receiving their salaries and benefits.
Brazeau returned to his seat in the Senate in September 2016 after charges of fraud and breach of trust related to his expense claims were withdrawn by the Crown.
Work outside the Senate
Denied his salary as a Senator and without other means of support, Brazeau embarked on a very public search for employment following his suspension, resorting to soliciting work via Twitter. In December 2013, Brazeau was hired as a freelance reporter for the Halifax edition of the satirical magazine Frank but was fired after writing one column. In January 2014, Brazeau wrote a column for the political website Loonie Politics where he outlines his argument why Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not serious about senate reform.
Brazeau was hired as day manager of an Ottawa strip club known as the Bare Fax in February 2014. "A job is a job", he was quoted by an Ottawa reporter as saying in regards to his new occupation. As day manager he is in charge of 25-30 staff members, including everything from hiring and firing to scheduling. Brazeau has also expressed interest in writing a book or starring in a reality show as means of earning an income.
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Kitigan Zibi Chief
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Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy, Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau
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Gatineau court house
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