Expense charges dropped against Sen. Patrick Brazeau
GATINEAU - April 2, 2015 - Patrick Brazeau enters court. (JOEL WATSON/Ottawa Sun)
The Senate expense scandal fizzled out quietly Wednesday morning as the last two charges — expense fraud and breach of trust against Sen. Patrick Brazeau — were withdrawn by the Crown, saying there was no reasonable chance of conviction.
After three-and-a-half years of investigation, dozens of charges and the 62-day Mike Duffy trial that took centre stage in Canadian politics, no one was ever convicted.
Brazeau clearly saw the event coming. Early Wednesday he tweeted: “For 859 days, the RCMP and Crown made me out to be a “fraudster.” Perhaps this all ends today.”
And several weeks ago he floated another perspective on Twitter: “Wonder how long it will take for a former or current Senator to sue the Senate.”
The episode brings to an end the investigation of four senators — Brazeau, Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Mac Harb — without a single conviction. Three of the four were originally charged with fraud, while Wallin was never charged.
While Brazeau was facing similar charges to Duffy, he was only facing two charges — fraud and breach of trust — stemming from a single alleged crime. (Duffy had faced 31 counts.) The breach of trust charge was added because Brazeau was in public office at the time.
Brazeau was appointed to the Senate on the advice of then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009. He was suspended in November 2013 over questions about his housing expenses. Brazeau has told the Ottawa Citizen in the past that he provided all requested paperwork and was granted permission for his claims before he submitted them.
Brazeau is still suspended from the Senate but has said he would like to return and sit as an independent senator representing First Nations.
The Senate has withheld Brazeau’s salary since his suspension in an effort to recover the $49,000 in questionable expenses he is alleged to owe the upper chamber.
Brazeau is also facing a charge of refusing a breathalyzer after an incident in L’Ange-Gardien, east of Gatineau, in early April. The next court date in that case is Oct. 26.
Last year, Brazeau pleaded guilty to one charge of assaulting his girlfriend – a charge of sexual assault in the same case was dropped – and he received an unconditional discharge.
The senate expenses scandal began in November 2012 when the Senate’s internal economy committee tasked three senators with reviewing Brazeau’s housing allowance.
But Sen. Mike Duffy was cleared on all 31 charges against him in April. Since then, charges against former senator Mac Harb were withdrawn in May, and the RCMP announced that Sen. Pamela Wallin would not be charged in relation to her travel expense claims.