GATINEAU, Que. – Sen. Patrick Brazeau appeared briefly in court Friday to face charges of assault and sexual assault before being released on $1,000 bail.
He is expected to return to court next month.
As part of his bail conditions, Brazeau cannot have a firearm or be within 150 metres of the alleged victim, who cannot not be identified under a court order.
While he can return to the Gatineau home where he was arrested Thursday, it is expected he will live in Maniwaki, Que.
The high-profile senator was arrested after a 911 call summoned police to his home, just across the river from Parliament Hill. He was promptly expelled from the Conservative caucus and spent the night in custody.
“It’s known that in light of the serious events that have been reported today, I have removed Sen. Brazeau from the Conservative caucus,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Commons on Thursday.
“Our understanding is that these are matters of a personal nature rather than Senate business, but they are very serious and we expect they will be dealt with through the courts.”
His office has said he intends to remain in the Senate as an independent, but Senate rules say a senator facing charges is usually put on leave. He would still be paid his $132,000 annual salary and could attend Senate sessions, although his access to benefits would be curtailed.
Brazeau has been under scrutiny in recent weeks over allegations he was using addresses other than his own in Gatineau in order to access a housing allowance from the Senate.
The Senate Board of Internal Economy says it is asking an external auditor to review the residency declarations of Brazeau and two other senators.
Brazeau’s appointment to the Senate in 2008 created an immediate outcry.
Brazeau was 34 when called to the Senate, making him the third-youngest appointee in its history and giving him quick access to a gold-plated pension and six-figure salary.
He joined while still a national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples; Brazeau is a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec.
His relationship with the broader First Nations community has been fraught with tension.
He was also linked to allegations of CAP misspending of federal funds that were supposed to pay for aboriginal health programs. Conservatives argued, at the time, that the misspending happened before Brazeau took over as congress chief.
Brazeau went on to become an outspoken advocate from the Senate for greater transparency from First Nations on how they spend federal dollars.
In that vein, he was highly critical of Chief Theresa Spence, who went on a hunger protest to force renewed talks between the federal government and aboriginal leaders. He also criticized the wave of protests under the Idle No More banner, saying aboriginal activists weren’t setting a good example.
Brazeau’s views have led to some of his own band members to denounce him, saying he’s gone rogue.
“We are working very hard at the community and nation level to bring about meaningful and accountable changes but Sen. Brazeau’s dismissive and condescending statements leaves no room for meaningful dialogue,” said Chief Gilbert Whiteduck said in a news release earlier this week.
Friday, February 8, 2013