Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Patrick Brazeau's Choice

Amidst the innuendo, the Globe and Mail raises a point

As Patrick Brazeau prepares to formally take his seat in the Canadian Senate, a scandal is emerging that may cast a shadow over the entire affair.

Jade Harper, a former employee of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, has filed a grievance against Brazeau alleging that he allowed drinking and sexual exploitation to take place in the offices of the CAP.

"There was a lot of drinking at the office," Harper said. "Once I put my grievance in, I would get the dirty looks in the office. No one would talk to me. Patrick wouldn't ...They just totally shut the door on me completely."

Harper alleges that she was sexually exploited by a senior CAP employee. She had a "personal relationship" with that individual.

As if Harper's allegations weren't bad enough, Brazeau himself is facing a sexual harrassment complaint that dates to the same time as Harper's complaint.

The original complaint is currently before Canada's currently-embattled Human Rights Commission. The executive board of the CAP had investigated the allegations and acquitted Brazeau last year.

"It's basically case-closed," Brazeau insisted.

However, Walter Menard, the CAP executive board member from Manitoba, insists that the investigation was not transparent. Indeed, the Harper case represents the second time that the CAP had such allegations made against during that period of time, and the second occasion on which the CAP simply investigated itself.

Of course, such issues tend to be extremely contentious, and are rarely resolved to the satisfaction of the complainants unless the accused is found guilty. That the matter would find itself before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal as opposed to a court of law is also fairly troubling, considering the extremely dubious activities of some of Canada's Human Rights Commissions.

Considering the timeframe of the two complaints, there is no question that they should be investigated by an outside agency. However, the CHRC is absolutely not the place for such an investigation.

More interestingly, however, Brazeau wants to wants to remain the chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples even as he sits in the Senate.

As a spokesman for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation noted, that is definitely a serious no-no.

"At the end of the day, if the money's coming from taxpayers, it's double dipping of a kind," the spokesperson announced, referring to the $100,170 Brazeau recieves as the CAP Chief and the $130,400 salary he would recieve as a Senator. The CTF spokesperson also rightly raised the very real probability -- not mere possibility -- of a conflict of interest. "To actually be a member of the government that he's advocating to would strike me as inherently conflictual."

There's very little question that it would. As the Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples Brazeau's first responsibility is to Canada's off-reserve aboriginal population. But as a Senator, his first responsibility is to the people of Canada as a whole.

While most Canadians like to believe that almost any issue that arises between Canada's aboriginals and the country as a whole can be worked out to the mutual satisfaction of each party, history has far too often taught us differently.

While Brazeau's voice within Parliament and within the government in particular is valuable to aboriginal Canadians, the truth of the matter is that he cannot reasonably be expected to live up to the obligations of each role. Especially when one considers the near inevitability of conflict between the two.

Brazeau needs to decide how he can best serve his country and his people. Then he needs to make his choice.

He cannot be both a Senator and the Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.


  1. great post :) cant wait to read more

  2. I don't think Harper should have appointed Brazeau with these allegations outstanding. While Brazeau may ultimately be cleared, there is also the chance that he will be found at fault. Since only 18 Canadians from across the entire country are being appointed at this time, there is no reason for one of those 18 to have this kind of allegation hanging over them at the time of their appointment. Harper should have left Brazeau for a future appointment if and when these charges are settled and Brazeau is cleared.

    The fact that Brazeau has indicated he might be able to hold both positions suggests that his internal compass may be a bit off. Harper should have advised him on this at the time of the offer, as it was an obvious issue.

  3. The allegations themselves -- at least to myself -- seemed to be of little conquence. I didn't think they were enough to dissuade his appointment.

    That is, until the suspension of the Manitoba director of CAP.

    Now I'm a little more leary about Brazaeu's appointment.


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