Senate votes to place Brazeau on leave of absence
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2013 1:35PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 12, 2013 5:41PM EST
Senators have voted to force Sen. Patrick Brazeau to take a leave of absence from the upper chamber while he deals with his legal troubles.
The motion to place Brazeau on leave, “in order to protect the dignity and reputation of the Senate and public trust and confidence in Parliament,” was adopted without debate Tuesday afternoon.
Brazeau, who was kicked out of the Conservative caucus last week, sat by himself in his new Senate seat as an Independent as the motion passed. Soon after, he left Parliament Hill without comment.
Brazeau surprised waiting reporters by showing up for the vote, Fife told CTV’s Power Play.
“He came in, and then he left,” Fife said. “He walked out of the chamber through a crush of reporters and got into a black truck and off he went without any further comments.”
Brazeau, 38, was arrested and spent the night at the police station after officers were called to his Gatineau, Que., home last Thursday. He was charged the next day with assault and sexual assault, and was released on a $1,000 bail. His next court date is in March.
The Senate also voted Tuesday to ask the board of internal economy to take steps to cut off Brazeau’s expense account. He could also lose some of his staff and other privileges typically accorded to senators in good standing.
Though he will be unable to sit in the Senate while on leave, Brazeau will continue to receive his $132,000 salary. He will remain on a leave of absence until the charges are dealt with in court.
If he is found guilty, Brazeau could be suspended from the Senate, or expelled. He could also choose to resign, which would preserve his pension.
Brazeau has been under scrutiny recently following a string of controversial revelations.
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.
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.
Brazeau claimed in an email to CTV News that he is fully up to date on his payments, however.
More recently, Brazeau 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.
Brazeau is not the first senator to face legal issues, and two recent cases saw the senators step down before they could be expelled.
Liberal Sen. Raymond Lavigne resigned in March 2011 after being found guilty of breach of trust and fraud. Lavigne had expensed travel bills for trips actually taken by his staff. He also had staff do work on his home when they should have been doing work related to his senate duties.
Lavigne received a six-month prison sentence and six months of house arrest. He has appealed that sentence.
Progressive Conservative Sen. Eric Berntson resigned in 2000 following a fraud conviction dating back to his time in provincial politics in Saskatchewan. He was sentenced to a year in jail.
Under the terms of his bail, Brazeau cannot carry a firearm, cannot communicate with the complainant (whose identity is protected by the court), and cannot change his address.
With files from The Canadian Press