Harper 'let down' by Senator Patrick Brazeau
Published Friday, February 8, 2013 9:24AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 8, 2013 10:04PM EST
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday he feels “let down” after a senator he appointed to the upper chamber, Patrick Brazeau, was charged with sexual assault.
Addressing a crowd in Vancouver Friday, where he and Heritage Minister James Moore were announcing new tough-on-crime legislation, Harper did not hide his disappointment.
"Obviously the situation with Sen. Brazeau is terrible, it is extremely appalling and disappointing. We all feel very let down," Harper said, before adding a caveat.
"That should not, obviously, obscure the fact that most people in the Senate work very hard and take their responsibilities very seriously," he said.
On the question of whether he would ask for Brazeau's resignation from the Senate, Harper said he would leave that to the upper chamber and its "strengthened process" now in place to deal with such matters.
"The events that we are speaking of here are very recent in nature," Harper told reporters. "Obviously, in the recent period, something has been going very wrong and that is the reason for the situation that has developed and that situation will be dealt with by the courts."
The prime minister's comments came just hours after Brazeau was charged with assault and sex assault and released on $1,000 bail. He was arrested Thursday after police responded to a 911 call from his Gatineau, Que. home and spent the night in custody.
The leader of the government in the Senate, Marjory Lebreton, announced Friday that a motion will be introduced next week to place Brazeau on a leave of absence. Brazeau’s access to Senate resources, such as office use and travel funds, will also be curtailed, she said.
Brazeau, who was removed from the federal Conservative Party caucus Thursday, will continue to sit as an independent member of the Senate and collect his $132,000 salary.
Under the terms of his release, the 38-year-old senator must remain 150 metres away from the alleged victim and is barred from possessing a firearm. His next court date is on March 22.
Before leaving the courthouse, Brazeau paid his bail and filled out some papers at the court office and was then escorted through a crush of reporters shouting questions as he tried to leave. He did not respond to any of the reporters.
Meanwhile, the Senate board of internal economy said Friday an external auditor will review Brazeau's housing declarations and expenses, along with those of two other senators.
On Wednesday, CTV News reported Brazeau used his former father-in-law's address in a First Nations community when he claimed an aboriginal income tax exemption from 2004 to 2008.
Brazeau, who has publicly called on aboriginal leaders to be more financially accountable, listed the residence on the Kitigan Zibi First Nation in Quebec as his mailing address for four years, unbeknownst to his ex-wife's father.
Brazeau has also faced questions over claiming his father's Maniwaki, Que. home as his primary residence, which allowed him to claim a taxpayer-subsidized housing allowance even though he rents a home in Gatineau, much closer to Parliament Hill.
Canadian senators can charge up to $21,000 in housing and meal expenses annually, if their primary residence is located more than 100 kilometres away from Ottawa.
Before he was released from custody on Friday, Brazeau told the court his main residence was in
Maniwaki, but prosecutors noted a different address was on official court documents.
CTV News has also learned that Brazeau was delinquent on his child support payments. Revenue Quebec ordered a salary garnishment for Brazeau to pay $800 per month in child support for his oldest son. Sources say a second order required him to pay about $4,000 in arrears.
"I am fully up to date with payments I have been ordered to pay," Brazeau said in an email to CTV News.
With a report from CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian and files from The Canadian Press