He was touted as the the youngest, one of the more interesting, and the only Aboriginal person appointed to the Canadian Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last month. He was a veritable poster-boy for the Conservative Party’s vision of the good Aboriginal. But there were rumours and mutterings about his past, his present, and his qualifications. Now they’ve hit the front page.
A woman in the office of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, headed by Patrick Brazeau, had filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Her complaint has now been passed along to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. During the past year, other women in the office have simply up and left with little or no notice or complaint. Not her, although her name remains confidential and she is set on pushing through her complaint.
Then there’s the situation in the office. CAP’s employees have had their work status changed over the past two years, from full-time staff employees to “private contractors.” They didn’t ask for it, but CAP saw this as a way to avoid paying employee benefits including health and dental plans, Employment Insurance dues, and pension contributions. In offices such as this, many of the support staff are women, and single mothers. While no former staffer has officially complained yet, they still have the option to file a “constructive dismissal” complaint which would bring in the authorities.
This isn’t a diatribe against Brazeau’s appointment, or the obvious opportunism of Harper’s string of Senate appointments. It is a matter of pointing out Brazeau’s attitudes about his own people, about other Aboriginal peoples, and particularly about those in his own office which should be examined more closely. what can one say about the character of this individual, and by extension about quality of his and the other appointments?
After all, what can you say about a man who stiffs a native fundraiser for inner city kids, the people he is supposed to be concerned about, and then zooms off in his rented European sports car?