Brazeau waives preliminary hearing, to be tried by judge alone on Senate charges
Suspended senator Patrick Brazeau returns to the courthouse in Ottawa following a break to attend the trial for suspended senator Mike Duffy as a member of the public on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Philip Ling, CTV News
Published Wednesday, April 22, 2015 10:28PM EDT
OTTAWA – Patrick Brazeau is inching closer toward trial on his Senate expense claims after waiving his right to a preliminary inquiry, CTV News has learned.
The suspended senator faces one count each of fraud and breach of trust related to his disputed travel and living expenses.
Court records, obtained by CTV News, show Brazeau waived his right to a preliminary inquiry, which lets the judge determine if there’s enough evidence to warrant a trial.
Brazeau was ordered to stand trial on all counts late last month.
Twelve days had originally been blocked off for Brazeau’s preliminary inquiry, starting on June 1 in Ottawa. Waiving that hearing will speed up the case, but it’s still not expected to begin before 2016. Brazeau’s case will now return to court May 1, when a trial date is expected to be set.
Brazeau’s lawyer Christian Deslauriers also asked the court last month for his client to be tried by judge alone. Brazeau originally opted to have his case heard by judge and jury.
The Conservative-appointed Brazeau appears to be following the legal strategy of his colleague Mike Duffy: the suspended P.E.I. senator also waived his preliminary hearing and his criminal trial -- now in its third week -- is being heard by a judge alone.
Earlier this month, Brazeau unexpectedly showed up at Duffy’s trial, saying he wanted “to support my independent colleague.” Speaking to reporters, Brazeau’s lawyer said it was “definitely interesting” to listen in on Duffy’s case, “especially on the residence issues.”
Both Brazeau and Duffy, along with Pamela Wallin, were suspended in November 2013 over inappropriate expense claims. Liberal Mac Harb resigned from the Senate in August 2013 after repaying ineligible housing and travel expenses.
Brazeau, Duffy and Harb have all been charged with defrauding the Senate by making false or misleading expense claims. No charges have been laid against Wallin. The RCMP investigation into her expenses is ongoing.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
Brazeau is also on trial in Gatineau, Que., for assault and sexual assault charges connected to an alleged incident two years ago. That trial -- unrelated to the Senate spending affair -- began in late March and he's free on bail while it proceeds.