“I don’t see any discrimination certainly in this budget,” said Patrick Brazeau, former Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal People and newly appointed senator. If his name sounds familiar it is because it has been splashed across the many national newspapers and television lately as the media have been quick to check out Harper’s youngest senator.
His new position will see Brazeau with a 40-year guaranteed Senate position with an annual salary of $130,000 along with many other perks. It was perhaps in celebration of this that he purchased himself the new Porsche SUV he has been photographed driving around Ottawa in. The 34-year-old could stand to earn $9.265 million of Canadian tax dollars should he stay in his seat for 41 years, when he will be forced out at the maximum age of 75.
Many new allegations – beyond the alcohol and sexual harassment ones -– have emerged in the past weeks. Recently reports have surfaced suggesting that Brazeau may not be the “devoted father” of his three children that he claims to be in his bio. One mother of a 14-year-old has said that she receives no support from him and he has not spoken to the child in eight years.
When asked his opinions on the federal budget, Brazeau was quick to defend Steven Harper saying that Aboriginals in particular should be pleased because Canada is investing $1.4 billion into Aboriginal issues.
Brazeau applauded Harper’s every move from housing to skills and training to infrastructure.
When asked about Aboriginals living in urban areas who were not addressed in the budget, Brazeau said that it was just a matter of perspective.
“There are many Aboriginals that make the mistake to look at this budget and just to look at what is specified there for Aboriginal Canadians in the actual budget,” he said.
As far as he is concerned, urban Aboriginals will benefit from the same kinds of tax breaks that the rest of the country benefits from so that is more money for them.
He spoke similarly of the child tax benefit and the income tax cuts when asked about marginalized Aboriginal women because with them, in his mind, Aboriginal mothers will find themselves with more cash in pocket.
“They can spend this as they please whether it is on themselves or on their children or anything else,” said Brazeau.
When it came to addressing the criticisms this budget has garnered from the country’s Aboriginal women’s organizations, particularly in terms of employment needs, Brazeau responded, “I fail to see where perhaps some of these ladies groups are claiming that this does not help Aboriginal women.”
When it was suggested that a great deal of the work that will be created by the stimulus packages was predominantly male-oriented, particularly those in construction, Brazeau said that there were still jobs within the field for women.
“I am certainly saying that there are many Aboriginal women, single women who are already architects, and this provides them with an opportunity,” he said. He also said that this could be a new area of study for marginalized single Aboriginal women. He suggested that the new funds for skills and training could help many Aboriginals, “whether they are homeless or whether they are single-parent families.”
Though many in the opposition parties have lashed out at the Harper government for chronically under-funding Canada’s Native reserves, Brazeau said that the money has been good. His defense of this was that the Conservatives have spent more on Aboriginals than the specifically targeted funds detailed in the Kelowna Accord ever would have and he praised the Conservatives’ fiscal policies.
“In the last three years, there has been an additional $6.3 billion spent on Aboriginal Canadians. And so I have been a strong proponent of accountability and sometimes of the lack of accountability,” said Brazeau.
Though Brazeau admits that the information on or implementation plans for this budget may not be so clear, he said that it was because that was the nature of Canadian budgets, Liberal or Conservative, they are always vague.
Brazeau also brushed off many of the criticisms that this budget received as “there is always going to be naysayers out there and people are going to take a fine tooth comb and go through this.”
Very much in line with the Conservative leader that appointed him, Brazeau, more than anything, stressed that there are many things in this budget that Aboriginals can really take advantage of and being positive about the budget was just a matter of interpretation.
“The important part is to look at this budget globally and not just focus on what has been earmarked for Aboriginal Canadians who live on reserve because that is very targeted to a particular segment of the population and when people read that, naturally and often, too often, they are going to feel that they are excluded,” said Brazeau.