Patrick Brazeau was everything the Conservatives were looking for — photogenic, youthful, dynamic — and in the end, too much of what they didn’t want.
Controversy. And plenty of it from his first days on Parliament Hill.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper touted the achievements of this “distinguished” Quebecer when he tapped Brazeau to join the Senate in December 2008.
He was just 34, an Algonquin from Maniwaki, Que. who was national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal People, an articulate representative for aboriginals living off-reserve.
Initially, Brazeau wanted to keep that job — and collect the six-figure salary that went with it — along with his new Senate salary of some $130,000 a year but soon gave up the congress posting.
But there was other baggage at the time too — complaints from former staffers at the congress and questions about Brazeau falling behind in child support payments
Since then he has sparred with Liberal MP Justin Trudeau
in the boxing ring and sparred with opponents on Twitter — his handle is @TheBrazman
— and not always come out the winner.
He was forced to apologize after he directed a slur at Canadian Press
reporter Jennifer Ditchburn after she exposed his spotty attendance record in the Senate.
And his campaign for greater “accountability, responsibility and transparency” for First Nations has also been divisive. While it has endeared him to fellow Conservatives, it’s put him at loggerheads with many in Canada’s First Nations community.
Those tensions came to a head in recent weeks as Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence staged a lengthy liquids-only diet to bring attention put First Nations concerns.
Brazeau was skeptical of her hunger strike and took aim at Spence after an audit revealed big problems in accounting on the Attawapiskat reserve.
Kitigan Zibi Chief Gilbert Whiteduck, from near Maniwaki, slammed Brazeau’s “total lack of understanding of issues facing First Nations.
“Rather than acting responsibly, Senator Brazeau has been and continues to act in a rogue manner,” Whiteduck said in a news release.
On Thursday, Senator Lillian Dyck, a member of the Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, told CBC News that Brazeau had “no credibility” and called him a “laughingstock.”
Senator Patrick Brazeau goes from ‘distinguished’ to ‘rogue’ | Toronto Star