After reviewing this next story one is left to wonder which is more flawed how Manitoba judges are appointed or senators?
Clare L. Pieuk
By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
ring, Senator Patrick Brazeau was out-boxed in March by Justin Trudeau, and on
Tuesday he was Twitter-swarmed into submission after calling a female Canadian Press
reporter a “bitch” during an online spat.
The Conservative Quebec Senator, however, faces potentially more humiliating
circumstances if he loses another battle he’s been quietly fighting in Federal
Court for over a year involving a former junior staffer with an Aboriginal
organization and allegations of “drunk” sexual harassment.
On Wednesday morning, Brazeau personally apologized to The
reporter Jennifer Ditchburn for calling her a bitch on
Twitter Tuesday in response to an article she wrote about the Senator’s abysmal
“While u smile Jen, others suffer. Change the D to a B in your last name and
we’re even! Don’t mean it but needs saying (sic),” wrote Brazeau.
Ditchburn reported that Brazeau, 37, missed 25 per cent of the Senate’s 72
sittings between June 2011 and April 2012. During that same time span, Brazeau
also missed 65 per cent of the Aboriginal peoples Senate committee of which he
is a member.
Brazeau said on Twitter that personal reasons were behind his absences.
Pundits and journalists have savaged Brazeau on Twitter and in print, some
have even accused him of misogyny.
The Senator, who was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, is
fighting far more potentially explosive battle in Federal Court.
A former female junior staffer who worked for the Congress of Aboriginal
Peoples (CAP) while Brazeau was its national chief wants the Federal Court to
overturn a Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) decision to not hear her
sexual harassment complaint against the Senator because the organization fell
outside its jurisdiction.
Alisa Lombard, who is now a lawyer, is trying to convince the Federal Court
that the CHRC erred in its decision because CAP is an Aboriginal organization
dealing exclusively in federal issues.
She initially filed her complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission,
which also decided the complaint fell outside its jurisdiction.
A botched kiss, along with the events that led to it and the text messages
that followed, formed the basis of Lombard’s sexual harassment complaint which
was filed with the human rights bodies.
While APTN National News
first reported on the case last year
, a number of documents have since been
filed with the court and, taken together, offer a revealing snap-shot of the
Aboriginal organization under the leadership of Brazeau, who was appointed the
Senate in December 2008.
None of the allegations have yet been proven in court.
Brazeau’s lawyer Andrew Lister, founding partner with Ottawa law firm
Lister-Beaupre, could not be reached for comment.
Lombard’s lawyer Maxime Faille, a partner with Ottawa law firm Gowlings,
could not be reached for comment.
The sexual harassment complaint stemmed from one alcohol-drenched office
Christmas party on December 20, 2007. The incident is detailed in several documents,
including two human rights complaints, a third-party investigation report, and a
letter written by Lombard to CAP’s Board, which were all filed in Federal
A third-party investigation initiated by CAP into the sexual harassment
complaint found that the three allegations that made up the complaint, if taken
separately, may not constitute sexual harassment.
“Taken as a trio, the three key allegations in this complaint, if proven,
would form a course of conduct or pattern of behaviour that would constitute
sexual harassment,” the investigation by ADR Chambers found.
The investigators described the incident as a “sexually charged series of
events at a Christmas party where both parties (and all witnesses) were
According to Lombard’s account, much of it which is supported by the
third-party investigation, the night began with wine, beer and shots at a bar on
Montreal Road. Called Caps.
The drinking started at about 5 p.m. and Brazeau found himself sitting next
to Lombard who was drinking wine along with a “shot or two,” according to the
“I noticed that additional drinks continued to be brought to me. I suspect it
was Mr. Brazeau because when I inquired as to my bill, he expressed that I
should not worry about it,” wrote Lombard. “I did not drink the additional
glasses of wine.”
The conversation, which initially centred on work-related issues, turned to
the personal when the then-married Brazeau started discussing his marital
difficulties with Lombard, according to her human rights complaints.
Brazeau also wanted to talk about Lombard’s boyfriend and at one point asked
her, “Have you ever cheated on your boyfriend?” Lombard alleged, according to
the court documents.
“During the course of the discussion, he would speak about work and his
ability to ensure my overall advancement,” states Lombard.
The investigator’s report states that “Mr. Brazeau drank heavily” that night
and the “conversation on the subject alleged happened.”
The investigators noted that, “it was not an appropriate conversation for a
superior to be having with any staff. As Chief, Mr. Brazeau ought to recognize
that his position of authority creates a power imbalance with any
The investigators, however, said it was unclear whether Brazeau would have
realized the subject matter of the conversation was making Lombard
“Ms. Lombard says she told Mr. Brazeau she didn’t like the question and he in
turn totally denies that and says she was a willing participant,” the
Later, standing outside the bar, a “drunk” Brazeau, allegedly grabbed Lombard
by the back of the head and pulled her toward his lips for a kiss.
Lombard stated that she turned and “froze.”
His lips missed their target, landing on her cheek. Brazeau then made a
“It all happened very quickly. I backed away and said, ‘what the hell?”
stated Lombard in one of the human rights complaint forms filed in Federal
The investigators found Lombard’s account of the kiss to be credible. The
report noted that Brazeau “was very drunk and slurring his speech at this
The investigators found that the kiss “was certainly stupid and
inappropriate,” and a rather a “goofy Christmas-time kiss from a happy
The next day, Lombard said she missed 15 calls on her cell phone from an
“For fear that it was Patrick, I didn’t answer. I felt sick to my stomach,”
she stated, in one of the human rights complaints.
Then Brazeau, who had forgotten his winter boots that evening, began texting
her “Pas de botte d’hiver.”
Lombard stated she believes the text messages were a double-entendre based an
inside office joke and a colloquial French expression “une bonne botte,” meaning
a “good lay.”
She said Brazeau sent her the message three times.
The investigators found the messages could not constitute sexual harassment
because it was unclear whether the messages meant more than what they stated on
“Alcohol fuelled much of what took place in the incidents described and we
believe that alcohol likely ultimately propelled the CAP’s most senior member to
make a stupid move,” the investigators concluded.
“However innocent the action (and it may well have been innocent), it does
not take away the impact that this had on the complainant. She was genuinely
hurt by what appeared to her at least to be a course of action (with the text
messages) of harassment against her,” the investigators said.
They also noted that Lombard continued to work for CAP after the incident and
invited Brazeau to the home of her mother for a lobster supper.
Lombard, however, stated in a submission to the CHRC, which is also filed in
court, that the investigators never met with any of the witnesses she
“The firm was retained and paid by…CAP,” the submission stated.
Lombard also stated in her Ontario Human Rights Commission complaint form,
filed in court, that a week after she sent her letter of complaint to CAP’s Board, her supervisor told her that her corporate email account would be
cancelled and she would be out of a job by April 31, 2008.
“I was punished for the behaviour of my employer’s manager,” wrote Lombard.
“I was warned that physical harm may be caused to my personal belongings by a
In the letter to CAP’s Board, filed with the court, Lombard stated that the
sexual harassment complaint from the Christmas party was just “one of the
harassment incidences” which she faced during her time working for the
“The drunken phone calls by upper management, inappropriate and unprovoked
late night drunken phone calls and voice messages and inadvertent sexual
comments and advances are too numerous to recall and recount,” she wrote in the
letter dated March 24, 2008.
In one of her human rights complaints, she described CAP’s office environment
as toxic, awash in alcohol, with ‘bullying,” swearing and “frequent sexual
She wrote that a “significantly intoxicated” Brazeau once narrowly escaped
arrest during a business trip in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“The entire staff was later reprimanded by the Chief’s advisor,” wrote
She said staff were sometimes “summarily dismissed” when Brazeau “became