Patrick Brazeau’s legal problems are compounding as he faces five new criminal charges – including assault and cocaine possession – that have increased the odds that he will eventually be expelled from the Senate.
In a short appearance on Thursday, the 39-year-old walked into a courtroom in handcuffs, with a slight limp, and pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. The Crown prosecutor objected to his release, stating Mr. Brazeau is accused of breaching the bail conditions related to his release after he was charged with assault and sexual assault last year.
“We can’t just let a person go out, free on bail, knowing he did the same criminal infractions that he did before,” Crown prosecutor Sylvain Petitclerc told reporters after the court appearance. “He was already under an undertaking, so we cannot just let him go free as a bird.”
Mr. Brazeau is scheduled to return to court for a bail hearing Friday morning. By coincidence, he was already scheduled to appear in court at that time to set the date for his trial on the 2013 assault and sexual assault charges.
Mr. Petitclerc said the trial plans might have to be changed as a result of the new set of charges. He added that one of the options that will be explored will be sending Mr. Brazeau to a treatment facility.
“Obviously the events have shaken up our schedule; things will have to be re-evaluated,” Mr. Petitclerc said, pointing to upcoming discussions with Mr. Brazeau’s lawyer.
Mr. Brazeau is also facing charges of fraud and breach of trust in relation to his expense claims in the Senate. The RCMP is alleging that Mr. Brazeau claimed expenses on a primary residence in Maniwaki, Que., despite spending the majority of his time in the National Capital Region around Ottawa.
Mr. Brazeau was suspended from the Senate last year, along with Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, over the expense scandal. All three senators were appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and initially sat in the Conservative caucus.
Conservative Senator Claude Carignan said Mr. Brazeau’s suspension is scheduled to be lifted after the 2015 election. If Mr. Brazeau is still facing charges at the time, he would go on a leave of absence.
“If between now and then, he is found guilty in a trial, he will automatically be suspended without pay until all avenues of appeal are exhausted,” said the Leader of the Government in the Senate. “Once all appeals are finished, the Senate would have then to make a decision to expel him.”
Police in Gatineau, Que., said they got a call for domestic disturbance at 3:53 a.m. Thursday. At the scene, officers saw that Mr. Brazeau and a woman had been fighting on the gallery of a private residence on Labrosse Boulevard.
Mr. Brazeau was intoxicated, a police spokesman said. He was arrested and charged with assault “in the context of conjugal violence,” Gatineau police said in a statement.
Another man, 50-year-old Marc Lamontagne, whom police described as a friend of the woman, was inside the house and got into a confrontation with Mr. Brazeau, police said. Mr. Brazeau is charged with uttering threats and assault in relation to his confrontation with Mr. Lamontagne, according to court documents. Mr. Lamontagne will also face assault charges after a complaint from Mr. Brazeau.
The other alleged victim of assault, Vanessa Brisson, is the owner of the house. On her Facebook page, she identifies herself as a barmaid and last month referred to Mr. Brazeau as “my love.”
Mr. Brazeau was taken into custody and spent the rest of the night at the Gatineau police headquarters.
Mr. Brazeau was charged last year with assault and sexual assault after a dispute with a woman where he is alleged by police to have ripped her clothes and grabbed her breasts in an aggressive manner. He was released on $1,000 bail and ordered not to enter into contact with the alleged victim.
Police responded to a call for help at a Gatineau residence in an incident involving Mr. Brazeau last October, but no charges were laid.
Mr. Brazeau recently began working as a manager at the Barefax Gentlemen’s Club, a strip club in Ottawa’s ByWard Market, near Parliament Hill.
With a report from Daniel Leblanc.