2 min

The appointments come home to roost

Justice Thomas Cromwell is now officially a Puisine Justice at the Supreme Court of Canada. He was sworn in during a private ceremony here in Ottawa on Monday, with a public welcoming ceremony slated for February 16th.

But it’s one of Harper’s other appointments that his causing him some new headaches. Of his 18 Senate appointments, he immediately faced a challenged about Mike Duffy’s PEI credentials (which they skirted by showing that Duffy co-owned a house on the island with his brother, and by promising that he’d live there six months out of the year and file his taxes there), but now it seems that there are some added problems with the appointment of Patrick Brazeau.

Brazeau, already the national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, wants to keep that job while taking on his Senate duties, which is a big conflict of interest. Not only that, but it seems that Brazeau is facing an allegation that he sexually harassed one of his female employees.

The Congress says that they dealt with the matter internally and cleared Brazeau of any wrongdoing, and the PMO says that they knew of this when they first vetted Brazeau for the appointment. But the former staffer is keeping the complaint alive, and it’s headed to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Add to that, while the Congress’ executives may be behind Brazeau on the harassment issue, they’re not so keen on his plans to stay as national chief given his new position.

It should also be pointed out that Brazeau is 34 – the youngest of Harper’s Senate appointments, and perhaps one of the youngest Senate appointments in history. After all, any promise he may have made to Harper aside, Brazeau legally doesn’t have to retire until he’s 75. Now, I’m all for Senate terms of fifteen to twenty years, because part of the Upper Chamber’s role is to be part of Parliament’s institutional memory given that the House changes over almost entirely every eight to ten years. But a forty-one year appointment stretches credulity.

If this harassment complaint doesn’t go away, this could turn into a very ugly situation for Harper and the Conservatives, and once again demonstrate that while he may have a reputation as a political Vulcan 3D Chess-master, Harper’s judgement may not actually be all that keen after all. And in this case, elevating someone who hasn’t actually had a full career to the Upper Chamber prematurely may end up being one more spectacular example of bad judgement coming back to bite him in the ass.