Patrick Brazeau forced to take leave of absence from Senate

Andy Radia
Canada PoliticsFebruary 12, 2013

Senator Patrick Brazeau has been forced to take a 'leave of absence' by his Senate colleagues.

On Tuesday afternoon senators passed a motion — supported by both the Liberals and the Conservatives — which stated that the move was made "in order to protect the dignity and reputation of the Senate and public trust and confidence in Parliament."

Brazeau, who on Friday was charged with a summary offence of sexual assault, was in the chamber on Tuesday and told reporters that he was "just happy to be at work." He could have delayed the vote on the Senate motion by one day but chose not to.

According to reports, however, Brazeau yelled out "no" when the Speaker asked if there was anyone opposed to the motion. He then got up and walked out of the Senate chambers.

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While on leave, Brazeau will earn his full senator salary of $132,300 but could be stripped of other perks and expenses; the extent of which will be decided by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.

On Monday, Government leader in the Senate, Marjory LeBreton released a statement explaining that Brazeau could not be removed immediately, "because of the presumption of innocence."

If Brazeau is ultimately found guilty in a court of law, the Senate will have some recourse.

Here are the rules as explained by PostMedia News' Jordan Press:

Under the Constitution, if a senator is convicted of an indictable offence with jail time of no less than two years, he or she is automatically disqualified from the upper chamber and the seat becomes vacant. A conviction under a summary offence requires the Senate as a whole to approve removing the senator, a power that is rarely invoked because convicted senators tend to resign before being turfed, allowing them to keep their pensions.

Here is the full text of the Senate motion:

With leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move:

That, pursuant to rule 15-2(1), in order to protect the dignity and reputation of the Senate and public trust and confidence in Parliament, the Senate order a leave of absence for the Honourable Senator Brazeau to last until this order is rescinded pursuant to rule 5-5(i); and

That for the duration of this leave of absence the provisions of rule 15-1(3)(a) apply to the Senator, and the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration have authority, as it considers appropriate, to suspend the Senator’s right to the use of some or all of the Senate resources otherwise made available for the carrying out of his parliamentary functions, including funds, goods, services, premises, moving, transportation, travel and telecommunication expenses.

Brazeau's leave of absence will likely remain until the charges against him are resolved.

His next court appearance is on March 22.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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