- Category: news
- Created: Monday, 04 November 2013 04:09
- Published: Monday, 04 November 2013 04:09
- Written by Administrator 3
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BY DOUG CUTHAND, THE STARPHOENIX
The Senate has become a three-ring circus, with Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau each taking turns performing in their respective rings. The experience has been like watching a disaster in slow motion, with new statements and information revealed almost daily.
These senators were put in place to be Stephen Harper's attack dogs, but now it appears they have gone feral.
This week Brazeau revealed his sorry role in the Harper government - his sole role was to run interference for the prime minister on aboriginal issues. In an interview with the CBC, Brazeau fessed up and apologized to the aboriginal people for his role as a mouthpiece for the Prime Minister's Office - getting talking points from the PMO and parroting them to the media. Now, I'm no fan of Brazeau. I consider him to be shallow, narcissistic, politically naive and a royal pain in the butt. During his time in office he did a lot of damage to the legitimate agenda of First Nations and Métis.
Brazeau was a surprise Senate appointment by Harper in 2008. He was only 34-years-old and had a very thin resume. His appointment proved two things. First, that Harper has no respect for the Senate or aboriginal people. Second, that the PM wanted an Indian who would have a soapbox from which to discredit legitimate aboriginal leaders. In his maiden speech to the Senate, Brazeau effusively praised the Harper government and poured scorn on First Nations and Métis organizations. He went so far to call his former organization, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, a "Mickey Mouse Club." He further laid the blame for First Nations problems at the feet of aboriginal leaders.
"With over $10 billion being invested annually on programming and services for the aboriginal community, how can it be that aboriginal people still live in unmitigated, povertystricken situations?" he told the Senate. "I firmly believe the simple answer to that question is an issue of the need for greater and rigorous measures of accountability."
By his own admission it's clear now that Brazeau didn't write the speech.
He was front and centre last winter in criticizing Chief Theresa Spence and the Idle No More movement. He mocked her "so-called hunger strike." At a Tory fundraiser he made fun of Chief Spence's weight and said she was not providing a good example for aboriginal youth.
It was a time when he should have risen to the occasion. Instead he chose to continue his role as a critic and clown. In short, he was an embarrassment. At the same time that Harper was making nice with National Chief Shawn Atleo, his staff were feeding lines to Brazeau.
After the wheels fell off the bus, the Conservatives were quick to distance themselves from Brazeau, with Conservative Senate leader Marjory LeBreton referring to him as an "experiment."
"Patrick Brazeau, to me he's a tragedy," she said. "Here's a person that got appointed to the Senate, could have done great work for his people. It's just a human tragedy and an experiment gone wrong."
What kind of experiment? He wasn't the first aboriginal senator. That was Sen. James Gladstone, who was appointed by prime minister John Diefenbaker in 1958. Since then 15 First Nations, Métis and Inuit senators have been appointed, several of whom are current sitting members. LeBreton worked in Diefenbaker's office in 1962, so she surely would have known about Gladstone.
So what was the experiment - bringing a token Indian into the Tory tent and turning him into a raving partisan? Was it a Conservative version of My Fair Lady? Now Brazeau is sorry. He has been cast adrift by his Tory friends and needs to mend fences with his home community and aboriginal people all across the country.
I don't believe that Brazeau or the other two senators should be given the bum's rush. It's like sentencing someone before a trial. The RCMP are reviewing their expenses and the lynch mob should take a back seat to due process.
Brazeau will take a bigger hit than Duffy or Wallin. While their careers are behind them, the latter two have pensions and savings to fall back upon. Brazeau hasn't yet turned 40 but his political career is done, and his age is such that he hasn't acquired a pension or savings.
His life is now a Greek tragedy. His is the story of a man with potential who is brought down by hubris and is abandoned by his friends. His way out is to return to his roots.