I’m a target, Brazeau claims
Aboriginal heritage the reason: senator
When Sen. Patrick Brazeau was turned away this week from a meeting with a First Nations chief who is on a much- publicized hunger strike, it was the latest public relations failure in a gaffeprone year for the young politician.
Last March, Justin Trudeau TKO’d the Conservative senator during a charity boxing match after Brazeau had bragged he would knock out the Liberal MP. Then Brazeau overstepped himself on Twitter, using a swear word to describe a female reporter and prompting him to temporarily shut his Twitter account. That was after revelations he had the worst attendance record in the Senate. Brazeau also lashed out at another reporter for a story about sexual harassment allegations. Next, his Senate housing allowance came under fire.
Then, the latest blow: A few days ago, Chief Theresa Spence refused to meet with him — even though Brazeau himself is an aboriginal Canadian, from the Kitigan Zibi First Nation in Quebec.
Yet Brazeau, 38, appears undaunted by criticism, even able to laugh at himself. He cracked jokes at his own expense at the annual parliamentary press gallery dinner in November, and earlier this month played the villain in a comedy sketch on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
He suggests there’s an element of racism in the barbs sometimes directed his way.
“I hate to say this — perhaps (it’s) the fact that I’m also aboriginal,” Brazeau told Postmedia News. “People don’t like the fact that we have aboriginal people in the Senate that have a pretty powerful voice or can have a pretty powerful voice at times.”
“I’ve always known I was going to be the target. That’s fine,” said Brazeau, who by law can remain in the Senate until 2049. “People who know me know that I’m a very kind and caring person.”
Brazeau has come under fire from aboriginals frustrated with the government’s changes to environmental assessments and to the Indian Act, under Bill C-45, the federal budget bill. He believes aboriginal opposition to C-45 is based on “misinformation” and “fearmongering,” and that the bill makes only “red tape procedural” changes.
“First Nations citizens that I have asked if they are aware of exactly what (C-45) means, they really can’t formulate a justifiable response except to say they oppose it because it goes against aboriginal and treaty rights, which is not the case,” Brazeau said.
“It’s the right of First Nations people to protest to try and garner the attention of governments, but I’m not sure if this specific bill is the hill to do it on.”
As to his own bad year, “I’ve never hidden the fact I did go through some personal issues this year and my blood just boiled at one point and I probably made my biggest political mistake since I’ve been involved in both aboriginal and mainstream politics,” he said, referring to his Twitter outbursts. His account has been relatively clean since he rejoined the social media platform.
In the meantime, his own party has admonished him publicly for his poor attendance record and asked for an investigation into whether he misused more than $20,000 in a housing allowance.
Brazeau made his case before the special Senate committee conducting the probe on Dec. 12 in a closed-door session. Neither he nor the Senate will discuss the investigation that has been widened to include the entire Senate, but Brazeau maintains he has done nothing wrong.
“Everything negative that has been said about me since my appointment has never been proven,” Brazeau said.