Although my blog site already says this, I have to repeat it for the small handful of Brazeau fans that exist in Canada. This blog and every single word contained therein represents my own personal opinions and views as an Indigenous person. It does not represent legal advice nor should it be relied on as such. This blog, as with all others, represents my “fair comment”, on a wide range of legal and political issues, i.e., my honestly-held, personal opinions which I have based on personal experiences, media reports, Senate documents, as well as other discussions and events that have been relayed to me by Indigenous people all over this country. There is no malice in any of my blogs and, in fact, they are designed to engage with other Indigenous Peoples and to think critically about our state of affairs. This blog also does not hurt his “reputation” for his reputation, as has been relayed to me by Indigenous people, media and himself others confirms that he is an Indigenous person (some would argue used to be) who obtained his fame and political power by trashing Chiefs. Senator Patrick Brazeau went from obscurity to enemy number one in Indian country because of his singular focus on trashing First Nations and Chiefs at every public opportunity. I have seen him on TV, quoted in newspapers, speaking in the Senate, heard his videos, and even been present in public forums where he literally trashes Chiefs as though such negativity and stereotypes were acceptable or even helpful in the debate. Whenever he loses some of the limelight, he will come up with his own bizarre home video to share with the public to again stir up some controversy and of course, publicity for himself. Prior to becoming a hand-selected conservative Senator, Brazeau was the President of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) for a very short period of time. I say President, because although he called himself “Chief”, he certainly did nothing to earn that title and in fact so often trashed Chiefs, I often wondered why he was so desperate to be called Chief? He only became President by default when the former one stepped down. He served out that term and was elected again amongst much controversy and several political plots to have him removed as President shortly thereafter – of course none of that ever made the media. He appeared to use his very limited time as President to get as much media attention for himself as possible and the common theme was to stereotype First Nations and Chiefs in negative ways. This of course caught the attention of the conservatives, whose former political advisor was none other than Tom Flanagan – the poster boy for promoting the assimilation of First Nations. There is no better way to sell an otherwise objectionable or unconscionable idea than to get an Indian to do it. Here is where Brazeau found his niche. By doing conservative bidding, he would get his media fame and make up for his failed modelling career and his failed attempt to become a real lawyer. We have to keep in mind that Brazeau brought no real political experience to the table when he became the President of CAP. He was a self-described former model and had completed some law school courses. Oh, and I can’t forget – he was also allegedly a whiz in martial arts. How that ever qualified him to try to lead a national Aboriginal organization is beyond me. FORMER MODEL: “PRESENTABLE FACE” FOR CAP: http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=3f7827a1-d524-4c56-a6f4-d86bb1aada68 I think the above article may have unknowingly hit the nail on the head about where Brazeau gets his qualifications – it could be unresolved anger and jealousy for having lived a “rock’s throw” away from the reserve and perhaps is why he is so bent on “throwing a few” rocks at First Nations. First Nations are not to blame for his living as a non-status Indian for part of his life and growing up off reserve. We all know that is Canada’s legacy. There is also a saying – don’t throw rocks if you live in a glass house. While Brazeau clamored for media attention through throwing rocks at chiefs, he forgot to look in his own backyard. There are many media sources which say that Brazeau left CAP in financial and administrative shambles, that he had originally wanted to double-dip, i.e. get a 6-figure salary from CAP and a 6-figure salary from the Senate, that he was not paying his child support and even worse, that several former employees had filed sexual harassment complaints against him. Here are some links to related media reports: SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST BRAZEAU http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/01/07/brazeau-senate.html BRAZEAU LAGGED ON $100 CHILD SUPPORT http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/585027 BRAZEAU WANTED BOTH JOBS AND BOTH SALARIES http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/568616 SECOND WOMAN FILES SEXUAL HARASSMENT AGAINST BRAZEAU http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/568616 BRAZEAU CHOOSES STAFF ALLEGED AS “OFFICE DRINKERS” http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20090208/senator_brazeau_090208/ BRAZEAU DEFENDS DRIVING PORCHE AND REPRESENTING IMPOVERISHED http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20090208/senator_brazeau_090208/ Certainly, this is not the kind of resume I would want from a person that would represent me in the Senate. In addition, the current President of CAP, Betty-Ann Lavallee has indicated that Brazeau is suing her and CAP for speaking out publicly about Brazeau. I have not seen the actual Statement of Claim, so I can’t provide any details. When interviewed, Brazeau always tries to shift the focus on his critics, as if they just make these things up. Some elders have indicated their view that by not taking responsibility for any of his actions, Brazeau cannot ever grow and become a better person. If we are to believe what is reported in the media about the horrible mess that CAP’s finances were left in after Brazeau’s reign, then we start to get a picture about his real talents or lack thereof. CAP’s ACCOUNTS FROZEN: http://media.knet.ca/node/2089 On a more personal note, I used to be a member of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council (NBAPC), which is a provincial affiliate of CAP. I used to attend their Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and one year Brazeau, then President of CAP attended to give a speech to the delegates. Instead of focusing on the severe poverty in off-reserve Aboriginal communities, lack of housing, jobs, and recognition of rights, his mantra was “Down with the Chiefs”! I believe that session was taped, but I never saw it ever reproduced. There were many of us sitting in the audience in absolute shock as he loudly and passionately shouted “Down with the Chiefs”. He completely ignored the fact that although the NBAPC represented off-reserve Aboriginal peoples, many of them still had band membership with their home communities; many had close relations with their families and friends on reserve, and more still worked in solidarity with their communities, including their chiefs, to bring about change for their people. His stereotyping of all chiefs as bad, not only hurt the hearts and souls of the people he spoke to, but he betrayed the very position with which he occupied – to be a spokesperson of the people he represented. No one in my family or circle of friends and relations held such negative, stereotypical views about our leaders – so I was left who the heck was he representing? From that point on, every time I saw him in the media, he was literally parroting everything that the Minister of Indian Affairs or conservative MPs had to say about Aboriginal peoples. At one of the last AGMs of CAP that he ever attended during his short reign, one of the delegates stood up and turned his back to Brazeau, when Brazeau got up to address the delegation. In our tradition, this is our way of saying that the person being shunned is no longer considered an Indigenous person which belongs to the community. No one yelled or challenged Brazeau because from that point on, as far as many were concerned, he was no longer a part of the Indigenous community. It was not long after that, that Brazeau was appointed to the Senate where he has been given a forum to continue trashing our communities through our leaders. Many people across the country who write to me, call or meet me, feel that Brazeau has single-handedly set back all the public education that has been done over the last 20 years to overcome the racist stereotypes about First Nations. Now, thanks to Brazeau and other right-wing groups and academics, it has become acceptable again to publicly insult, stereotype, and humiliate our people. The really sad thing about Brazeau’s situation is that he was so young and inexperienced that he could not see how easily he was manipulated and used by the conservatives. What was so clear to those of us who were more experienced and used to the kinds of political games and divide and conquer methods used by governments, was beyond Brazeau’s comprehension. Instead of seeking advice and guidance from the many experienced leaders in our communities – some of whom have done amazing things for their communities, he acted as if he had all the answers. It was pitiful to watch, especially since it is so rare for an Indigenous person to be so completely “converted”. Despite all this, what it comes down to at the end of the day is personal responsibility. Many elders have told me that Brazeau had a choice: he could be a spokesperson for his people or for himself and it appears as though he chose the latter. According to the elders, he therefore has to accept full responsibility for all the damage he has done and is doing in his pursuit of fame and power. I have learned over the years that our elders’ wisdom should not be discounted lightly. Even if Brazeau would take time to consider the criticism that is levelled against him, he might be forgiven for ignoring it. Yet he seems to relish in the spotlight and use those opportunities to further insult and stereotype our leaders and in so doing, our communities and future generations. I have written previously about my concerns over Brazeau’s use of Senate insignia and meeting rooms to film his bizarre videos criticizing chiefs, his uninformed opinions on our communities, and the disrespectful way he talks about our leaders. Many experienced Senators work on various issues outside of the Senate to support important community issues – but they do so in a helpful, positive way. Using the resources of the Senate to vilify, even if only by implication, a cultural group that is already the most vulnerable group in society, goes well beyond what is conduct expected of a Senator. Readers may also recall that when I was invited to the Senate to present on Bill S-4 regarding matrimonial real property (MRP) as an expert witness, Brazeau later, when I was not there to defend myself, wrongly accused me of being a paid consultant to the Chiefs and therefore asked the Senate to ignore my expert legal testimony based on the unfounded allegation that I was only there to “feather my nest”. When APTN made my subsequent complaint public, it was the Chiefs who stepped forward to defend me publicly and by letters. Did Brazeau ever apologize to me personally? No. But I can tell you that the next time I was invited as an expert witness to speak to the Senate on Bill C-3, I was unexpectedly disinvited at the last minute after having already made travel and other arrangements. I have to wonder whether I will ever be invited back after having spoke out against Brazeau’s behaviour. Now, Brazeau’s tiresome campaign against the Chiefs continues. Many chiefs have complained how he treats them disrespectfully whenever they appear before a committee of the Senate. Brazeau himself admits to “testy” exchanges. I wonder if Brazeau would ever think to speak to PM Harper that way?? Of course not. Some of you may be questioning why I would compare First Nations Chiefs to a PM – well, if its good enough for the salary issue, why is it not applicable for other issues? The public can’t have it both ways. Below is a link to APTN’s story on the issue: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/02/09/brazeau-not-legitimate-represenative-of-first-nations-ontario-chiefs/ The letter that is referenced comes from the Chiefs of Ontario and is addressed to all Senators and Members of Parliament. It is signed by the heads of its regional organizations as well as Chiefs from Six Nations and Akwesasne. They raise a very important issue: that Brazeau was never nominated, appointed, elected or in any way chosen by First Nations people to speak for them and therefore he should not do so. In fact, they argue that it is a breach of our numerous international human rights. The letter goes on to state that while they recognize that the conservative government has the right to appoint anyone it chooses to the Senate, the government must recognize that First Nations have the right to choose their own leaders and have asked that the Conservatives: “desist from characterizing Senator Brazeau as someone who can speak to our issues”. This seems like a reasonable request given that many have questioned not only his ability to be a Senator and former President of CAP, but also his lack of experience personally or politically in First Nations. Given that some of Brazeau’s own “grass roots” people have literally turned their backs on him and no longer even consider him Indigenous, I think the request is more than reasonable. We are all sick of Brazeau’s tiresome campaign against First Nations and their leaders. Many of us are even sick of seeing him on TV. Let him sit in the Senate with his former CAP employees and work on other issues. Leave the business of First Nations issues to those with the experience to add something positive to the agenda. Let’s get on with the business of finding solutions to the serious and even deadly issues facing Indigenous peoples in Canada and finally wrap up Brazeau’s 15 minutes of fame.