Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives distanced themselves Friday from Sen. Patrick Brazeau, after Brazeau was released on $1,000 bail, facing charges of assault and sexual assault.
The 38-year old senator from Quebec made a brief court appearance Friday morning after spending the night in a Gatineau jail.
“Obviously the situation with Sen. Brazeau is terrible,” Harper said at a news conference about criminal justice legislation in Burnaby, B.C. “It is extremely appalling, disappointing, we all feel very let down.”
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Charges against the controversial senator could trigger a Senate process that could see him suspended from Canada’s upper chamber as early as Tuesday – while still being paid a senator’s annual base salary of $132,300.
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“The Conservatives appointed him knowing full-well that he had numerous sexual harassment complaints against him and he was not paying child support for his son,” said Francoise Boivin, NDP MP for Gatineau, inside the House of Commons. “Why did he (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) wait so long before expelling him from the Conservative caucus?”
Brazeau, an aboriginal senator, has been an outspoken critic of many First Nations leaders, and of the Idle No More protest movement.
But he has also been under Senate investigation, along with other senators, over allegations that he may have misused $21,000 in housing allowances. He has maintained his innocence.
In an earlier interview, he told Postmedia News, “I knew I was going to be a target from day one. I was appointed at the age of 34, a very young senator, the third youngest in Canadian history. That fact alone and the fact that perhaps that I’m also – and I hate to say this – perhaps the fact that I’m also aboriginal” (would make him a target).
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He also said at the time: “Everything negative that has been said about me since my appointment has never been proven. I still look forward to the day that, regardless of the allegations that swarm out there by different media sources or any other individuals or groups, that they actually provide the truth and the facts to back up their allegations.”