Patrick Brazeau considering lawsuit as Senate-related charges dropped
Published Wednesday, July 13, 2016 10:27AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 13, 2016 5:22PM EDT
Sen. Patrick Brazeau is considering his legal options after the Crown dropped the Senate expense-related charges against him, his lawyer said Wednesday.
"We'll explore all avenues," said Christian Deslauriers, speaking to reporters outside the Ottawa courthouse. Those options include suing the Senate, which Deslauriers admitted is difficult, or suing the RCMP, which handled the investigations into Brazeau and three other senators.
"I'm not saying there is going to be a case. And I don't know at this stage," Deslauriers said.
But he hinted at darker motives, suggesting a political motivation for the charges.
"There is someone in charge at the RCMP at the highest level who made the call: 'you are going to investigate this and down the line we are going to charge this person'," Deslauriers said.
"If there was any political interference, I cannot prove it. I can believe in it, I can think there was, but I cannot prove it.”
Deslauriers says he thinks the RCMP regret having charged Brazeau, given auditors at Deloitte looked at the senator's spending and found he'd done nothing wrong.
In a statement to CTV News, the RCMP said it “thoroughly conducts its investigations with fairness and impartiality.”
“Although the decision in laying charges in the province of Ontario rests with the police agency, the RCMP consults with the Crown Counsel before making such decisions in the more complex cases,” the emailed statement said.
“The RCMP works in collaboration with Crown throughout the judicial process and respects the decision made by the Crown in this case.”
On Wednesday, the Crown dropped charges of fraud and breach of trust against Brazeau, clearing the way for him to return to the Senate.
The charges against Brazeau were the last ones remaining out of the long-running Senate expenses scandal. Earlier this year, Sen. Mike Duffy was found not guilty of all 31 charges against him. The Crown also dropped its charges against retired senator Mac Harb, and the RCMP announced it was closing its probe into Sen. Pamela Wallin without recommending charges.
Senators voted to suspend Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin without pay more than two years ago, although the suspensions lifted last August when Parliament dissolved ahead of the election. Harb retired before he could face a suspension. When Brazeau's paycheque resumed, the Senate garnisheed it to cover the expenses it sought to recoup.
Deslauriers says Brazeau has repaid his Senate debt and will return to work soon, although they need to confirm some of the details of his return with the Upper Chamber.
The three-year ordeal has been hard on Brazeau and his family, Deslauriers noted. In January, Brazeau was rushed to hospital after he tried to kill himself. He's been charged twice for driving under the influence, charges to which he pleaded not guilty, and which are still before the court. Last fall, he received an unconditional discharge after pleading guilty to cocaine possession and assault. A more serious charge of sexual assault was dropped when the Crown said it didn't have sufficient evidence.
"Definitely this had a big impact on his personal life," Deslauriers said. "Mr. Brazeau has developed some health issues since then. It's all related to stress."
"Quite frankly, this destroyed Mr. Brazeau for three years now. He's been having a hard time with this. That may not affect Canadians, but it definitely affected Mr. Brazeau and his family."
Deslauriers wouldn't say how much the legal case has cost Brazeau, but said he's been carrying it for three and a half years, so "there's a cost attached to this for sure."
Brazeau wasn't in court Wednesday morning, but tweeted about the end of the case.
I wouldn't wish false accusations on my worst enemy. It almost ruined my life. I was thrown under the bus but I survived. #cdnpoli— Patrick Brazeau (@senatorbrazeau) July 13, 2016
"I wouldn't wish false accusations on my worst enemy. It almost ruined my life. I was thrown under the bus but I survived," he said.
The Conservative-appointed senator, now sitting as an independent, has sounded upbeat recently on social media.
After 3yrs of not working out for health reasons, I've finally hit the gym. I got good news.— Patrick Brazeau (@senatorbrazeau) July 5, 2016
"After 3yrs of not working out for health reasons, I've finally hit the gym. I got good news," the martial arts enthusiast tweeted last week.
At 41 yrs old, I got a scare with cancer. It's something else. Good news. #cdnpoli.— Patrick Brazeau (@senatorbrazeau) July 8, 2016
"At 41 yrs old, I got a scare with cancer. It's something else. Good news, " he added two days later.
Deslauriers says Brazeau is in great shape emotionally.
"Now he's trying to recompose himself to come back," he said. "He's very happy that the charges have been dropped."