US & Canada

Canada Senator Patrick Brazeau found injured at home

Senator Patrick Brazeau speaks to journalists Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Senator Patrick Brazeau is in hospital as a result of serious injury

A controversial Canadian senator who is due in court on fraud charges in March has been found seriously injured at his home near the capital, Ottawa.

Patrick Brazeau, 41, has been on a paid leave of absence since 2013 as a result of questionable expenses and charges of assault and sexual assault.

He underwent surgery on Tuesday and is now in a critical but stable condition, a hospital spokesman said.

When Mr Brazeau was appointed in 2008, he was the youngest ever senator.

His biography on the Canadian Senate website describes him as "a champion of the rights of Aboriginal peoples".

Also in 2008, he was re-elected as chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP). He resigned from CAP the following year because of allegations of sexual harassment.

In 2011, nine chiefs of Ontario signed a letter stating Mr Brazeau does not represent First Nations peoples in Canada.

No criminal investigation

Emergency services were called to Mr Brazeau's house at 22:00 (17:00 GMT) on Monday night. A police spokesperson says there is no criminal investigation.

Mr Brazeau's lawyer told CTV News he did not know the senator's condition in hospital.

The sexual assault charges against Mr Brazeau were dropped due to a lack of evidence, but Mr Brazeau pleaded guilty to assault and possession of cocaine. He received an absolute discharge (a finding of guilt with no jail time or criminal record).

His salary has been reduced to repay nearly CA$50,000 (£24,000; US$34,000) in Senate expense claims.

He is due to stand trial on charges of fraud and breach of trust in March.

Years in the Senate

In 2012, Justin Trudeau - now prime minister of Canada but at the time a rookie MP - challenged Mr Brazeau to a charity boxing match.

Mr Brazeau was widely tipped to win but was defeated in the third round - a milestone on Mr Trudeau's route to power.

In 2013, the Senate audited four members' expenses, including Mr Brazeau's.

Parliamentary rules say senators living more than 100km (60 miles) outside Ottawa can claim the allowance.

Mr Brazeau allegedly claimed the allowance for his father's home in the town of Maniwaki, 135km north of the capital, while he lived full-time in a rented home within the Ottawa area.

Mr Brazeau addressed the Senate to reconsider his case.

"It is very important that you understand that I am not guilty of what some of these people are accusing me of," he said. "I am not a thief, a scammer, a drunken Indian, a drug addict, a failed experiment or a human tragedy."

In October 2015, Mr Brazeau left the Conservative caucus to sit as an "independent First Nations senator."

Canadian senators are not elected, but are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister, to serve until they are 75 years old. For years, there has been talk about amending the constitution to make the process more democratic.

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