OTTAWA – Patrick Brazeau once so loathed the media that he angrily lashed out on Twitter against a journalist who reported on his poor Senate attendance record.
But it seems losing a steady paycheque after getting booted from the upper chamber has done wonders for the disgraced senator’s opinion of the fourth estate.
Despite having no prior journalism experience, Brazeau — who is also facing charges of assault and sexual assault stemming from an incident in February — has found work as a freelance reporter for the Halifax edition of Frank Magazine.
Brazeau openly solicited work on Twitter after he and fellow former Conservative caucus members Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin were suspended by the Senate in early November over their questionable expense claims.
Frank, the satire and gossip magazine — not to be confused with the entirely distinct Ottawa version of the same name — announced its newest hire Monday.
“Listen, here’s the deal: Frank Magazine exists, to paraphrase a famous quote, to comfort the afflicted, and be a pain (in) the arse to the comfortable,” managing editor Andrew Douglas wrote on the magazine’s website.
“And who could possibly be a bigger pain in the arse to, I dunno, just throwin’ out some names here, senators (Marjory) LeBreton, (David) Tkachuk and (Carolyn) Stewart Olsen than their former colleague, Patrick Brazeau? Can’t you just picture it?”
Those three Conservative senators — LeBreton was the former government Senate leader and Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen were members of the internal economy committee — are central figures in the Senate expenses scandal. Brazeau has accused the trio of conspiring to get him kicked out.
It’s a safe bet that few applications for membership with the parliamentary press gallery in Ottawa have ever generated as much media interest as Brazeau’s, which he delivered in person on Monday.
Brazeau, sporting a new close-cropped haircut, was immediately greeted by a crush of reporters and cameras when he arrived at the downtown Ottawa building that houses the press gallery’s office.
Some managed to squeeze in alongside him as he got on the building’s only working elevator. Others sprinted up the stairs, only to discover that Brazeau had disembarked at the wrong floor.
He did eventually make it to the office, where even more journalists were waiting for him to fill out the application. When he was done, however, Brazeau had little to say about his journalistic plans.
“Well, we’ll see. I mean, obviously a lot of my focus will be on the so-called Senate scandal,” Brazeau said.
“I’ll be tackling that as soon as possible.”
It will now fall to the press gallery’s board of directors to decide whether or not to accredit Brazeau. If it does, he will be granted a pass that allows him to roam freely through some of the corridors of the parliamentary precinct.
Press gallery president Daniel Thibeault said Brazeau’s application is a first for the institution.
“There’s so many unknowns in there that I wouldn’t dare speculate which way the board’s going to lean,” Thibeault said in an interview, noting that freelance members usually need assignment letters from two publications.
“It’s a former senator who still holds the title of senator. Even though he’s not in the (upper) chamber anymore, he still has a title. He’s asking as a freelancer on behalf of only one publication. So all of that together makes it difficult for me to even guess which way this application could go.”
In hiring Brazeau, Frank is getting a controversial figure.
Earlier this year, he was arrested in Gatineau, Que., and charged with assault and sexual assault. That led to Brazeau being kicked out of the Conservative caucus. His next court date is in mid-February.
In March 2012, he lost a charity boxing match to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and, as a stipulation of the bout, ended up having much of his long hair cut off under the glare of TV cameras.
Sometimes, he lets his thumbs get ahead of his brain. In June 2012, he apologized after rhyming a Canadian Press reporter’s name with a derogatory word on Twitter after she reported on his poor Senate attendance record.
Earlier this month, the Senate voted to suspend him over the expense issue.
The suspension — which lets Brazeau keep his health, dental and life insurance benefits — is to last for the rest of the parliamentary session, which could continue for the next two years.
So what’s a suspended senator to do?
Brazeau made his intentions clear last week with a series of tweets that revealed he wanted a media job, is writing a book and is open to starring in a reality show — as long as it pays — in which he tries a different job every week, a nod to the old Canadian TV series “The Littlest Hobo.”