Senator Patrick Brazeau – “Continuing to play partisan games at this time is not helpful for anyone”

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Speech from the Throne

OTTAWA – POLITICS – Senator Patrick Brazeau will be voting to support the Emergencies Act.

Here is the speech he gave in the Senate:

Honourable senators, at the age of 15 I got my first summer job. It was for the National Capital Commission. I was hired to pick up garbage with a pick and a garbage bag, and I took care of the flower beds on Parliament Hill and the surrounding areas. Every day I got to come to work that summer, I felt privileged to work on Parliament Hill because I was in awe of the structure and what went on within those walls.

It was also the summer of 1990 when we witnessed another crisis, the Oka Crisis, where we had non-Indigenous men — investors — wanting to build a golf course on a traditional Mohawk burial site. This crisis of 1990 forced the Conservative government of the day to send in the military after a request from the Quebec provincial government. I have seen and participated in many peaceful protests and have witnessed many different protests in front of Parliament Hill over the years from people across the political spectrum. However, what we have witnessed in the past weeks is anything but a protest. What seemed like a protest quickly became an occupation, which quickly became an illegal occupation.

Paralyzing the city of Ottawa and its residents is something we have not seen before — not in Canada. We saw individuals posing as Indigenous peoples, including several organizers. I do not know for a fact if these people are Indigenous or not, but what I do know is that many Indigenous peoples and organizations across the country have denounced the cultural appropriation being exercised by some of these individuals.

We saw how reporters were harassed and in some cases not able to do their jobs. We saw people chanting “fake news” toward reporters who are part and parcel of our democracy. We saw reporters being spat on. We have witnessed more interest in U.S. media, making absolute false statements about what is really happening in Canada. The amount of misinformation is pervasive because it affects us all.

Other high-profile individuals throughout the world have associated Canada’s Prime Minister to Hitler. How infantile can grown men be? This is where we are, and it’s very scary. Are we moving forward or taking a few steps back? Time will tell.

We have also witnessed the partisanship between different levels of government and the leaders of every political party throughout the country. We have witnessed jurisdictional wrangling between the federal, provincial and municipal governments and law enforcement. As an Indigenous person, I have — and I’m certain most Canadians have — witnessed the complete and differential treatment of lawful, peaceful Indigenous protests versus what we have seen this past month in Ottawa and other parts of the country. What message does this send? How do you think 1.5 million Indigenous people feel in this country after watching this unfold — after watching RCMP officers shake hands with and hug the non-Indigenous protesters?

I have never seen that happen to any Indigenous person in Canada. And it’s shameful.

There were individuals with racist behaviours, people spitting on reporters, anarchists, truckers and people who simply participated with the thought that they were taking part in history. I never thought I would see White nationalists and supremacists anywhere in the streets of Canada. I thought these were American problems.

The United States has their share of problems and seems to want to permeate our country with them. I don’t know about you, colleagues, but I have never seen so much U.S. traffic, correspondence, emails and phone messages. In fact, I’ve seen more U.S.-related correspondence in one week than I have in the last 13 years here, and I find that concerning.
Finally, we have witnessed politicians support this occupation. “Support the truckers” is what was said. We all know that they were more than truckers, more than vaccine mandates and more than people unhappy with the current government that was at play. It was an attempt to overthrow the government. It should not matter what government is in power. When there is an attempt to overthrow the government, we should join together and put democracy in action. No Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic Party, Green or independent MP should ever wish for this to occur in their country, regardless of who is in power, because Canadians choose our leaders by way of elections. We just had one four months ago. Canadians spoke.

Unfortunately, the Emergencies Act has been invoked for the first time. The House of Commons and the Senate of Canada are asked to vote on whether the invocation of the act was justified. It is difficult to know with certainty if this was necessary at this point. The fact is, no one knows exactly what happened because we do not have the facts before us. Was there foreign interference, financial or otherwise? What were the purposes of the occupation? Was there involvement by political parties? Was the Ottawa police perhaps compromised? After all, the Ottawa police chief had to step down as a consequence of the illegal occupation in Ottawa. We are not aware of the potential jurisdictional issues that may have hampered quicker action.

With all these unanswered questions, one thing is certain, however. Under the act, there will be answers to many questions Canadians have with respect to why this occupation occurred and why it lasted so long. Until then, perhaps we should all stop trying to be experts by delving into the hypotheticals of why and how this occurred.

I have faith in my country, and I have faith that we will all get the answers. Ultimately, as is always the case, it will be Canadians who will learn the facts and decide for themselves if this invocation of the act was necessary for our collective security or if it was done as a partisan abuse of power.

Until we have all the facts, I invite you to take stock of what happened and to respect another aspect of our democracy, which is due process. Rather than creating further divides, let us take a step back and let justice do its work. Under the act, if passed, an investigation or inquiry must be undertaken to seek all the facts and will have to report back to Canadians in about a year.

Colleagues, that’s why I will be supporting the act, but I wish we were not at this point. The House adopted the act by a vote of 185 in favour versus 151 against. We are not here to rubber-stamp anything, but I will be supporting the act because by doing so, it will bring the checks and balances needed to try to get to the bottom of what occurred. Speaking for myself, justice, due process and patience will shed light on facts in a non-partisan way.

Partisanship is partisanship, but continuing to play partisan games at this time is not helpful for anyone. Let’s come together as Canadians to support and defend our democracy. Even with all its failures and inaction by the federal government, and, in particular, its treatment of Indigenous peoples throughout history, Canada is still the best country in the world.

Respect is clearly lacking in today’s politics. Perhaps social media is partly to blame, but politics are becoming very divisive and full of smears. As parliamentarians, it is our job right now to put that partisanship aside and fight against any type of hate. Canadians have every right to see us working cooperatively to get facts, not hearsay. This is not time to take cheap shots or settle political scores. This is the time for this chamber to rise above petty political tricks and consider only the needs of Canadians, without regard to political stripe.

Honourable senators, I want to remind Canadians of who we are, and of our collective values and convictions. We are a peaceful, strong, generous people. We work through our problems together, in good faith and with good will.

Life can be short, colleagues. We have one life to live. Perhaps our time would be more usefully spent trying to get along rather than in creating divide.

Those who have fuelled, supported, participated in or used this as a political tool will not be on the right side of history. Choices in life come with consequences, and freedom always comes with a price.

It is alarming but not surprising how some people support illegal occupations but quickly condemn legal, peaceful and rightful protests that have occurred in Canada. So I would like to take the time to thank all of those involved who made Ottawa boring again and who have given the citizens of Ottawa their city back. Ottawa is also my home and the home of the Algonquin nation.

In the end, I offer this to you, colleagues: The most powerful freedom fighter is democracy. Everyone has a job to do, so let’s get to work and do our part. All my relations, meegwetch.