Senator Patrick Brazeau says he’s still battling personal demons and some lingering bitterness as he re-takes his seat in the Senate, but he nevertheless feels lucky to be alive.
In an interview with Global News Tuesday afternoon, Brazeau spoke about what it’s like returning to Parliament Hill three-and a-half years after he was first ousted by his Senate colleagues as a result of a series of assault charges. The Senate maintained the suspension a few months later due to lingering questions surrounding Brazeau’s housing expenses.
“I’ve known all along that … I didn’t do anything wrong, and at the end of the day the decision was strictly about politics,” said Brazeau, who has always maintained he was seen as a scapegoat by the Conservative government.
“I went through some very tough times because of those decisions, but I’m lucky enough to say I’m back today … I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t bitter. But having said that, in life you have to learn how to forgive and forget. That’s still a work in progress.”
Charges of fraud and breach of trust against Brazeau linked to his Senate expenses were withdrawn in July, allowing him to re-take his seat full-time.
In addition to the sexual assault and assault charges that got him suspended by his colleagues in the first place, Brazeau has had a string of run-ins with the law over the last three years linked to impaired driving, domestic incidents and drug possession.
Brazeau was eventually acquitted of the sexual assault charge after agreeing to a plea deal in September 2015 involving several other charges.
WATCH: No jail time for Sen. Patrick Brazeau
Then, last January, he attempted to take his own life, reportedly slashing himself in the throat. He was hospitalized and recovered, and says he’s now in therapy and getting regular exercise.
According to Brazeau, his struggles have given him a new appreciation for the challenges faced by people suffering from mental-health issues.
“I thought I had an idea, especially with many of the constituents that I represent, Indigenous peoples across the country,” he said. “Now that I’ve undergone what I went through … certainly I have a much greater appreciation for what people deal with.”
Brazeau said he won’t be rising to speak in the Senate on Tuesday, and that he plans to take his re-integration “one day at a time.”
The embattled senator still has one outstanding legal case, involving a refusal to submit to a Breathalyzer test. He said he’s looking forward to his day in court, but offered no other comment.
“Some people I guess may not want me back, others may be happy to see me back,” Brazeau said of the reception he expects on the Hill.
“The great thing is I’m fully independent and I don’t have to be anybody’s puppet.”
Heading into Centre Block, Brazeau wished former prime minister Stephen Harper, who originally appointed him to the Senate, a “happy retirement.”