OTTAWA – Over the past year and a half, several senators urged Patrick Brazeau to seek help for “substance issues” and one offered to book him into a private treatment facility, sources say.
But the troubled independent senator never took up the offer.
“I was concerned enough from talking to him that I thought he had some substance issues,” one senator said.
Two senators speaking only on background because of the personal nature of the issue told Global News several members of the upper chamber were worried about Brazeau’s behavior.
“You can’t force people to get help,” the senator said.
Senators say they approached Brazeau about potential substance problems in March 2012, August 2012 and February 2013.
One senator said there have been concerns Brazeau had alcohol and drug problems. Another believes Brazeau is currently facing mental health issues unrelated to substance use.
Around the time of his boxing match on March 31, 2012, against now-Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, one senator said he became concerned with Brazeau’s behavior.
“He was perfectly primed to blow that up. You could see it coming,” the senator said.
He said he told Brazeau he could book him a bed with a day’s notice at the exclusive Newgate 180 private treatment centre in Merrickville, Ont., about 45 minutes from Ottawa.
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The residential facility boasts a high success rate and treats alcohol, drug and gambling addiction.
“I said, ‘Look I can get you a bed right now if you’re interested.’ And he didn’t say no, to be fair. But never did take me up on it,” the senator said.
Newgate’s director, Peter Kunst, said all client activity is confidential and wouldn’t comment on whether he was contacted about Brazeau.
The senator said he approached Brazeau again twice, shortly before and after his arrest on Feb. 7 this year.
“He wouldn’t even reply anymore. He just cut himself off totally,” the senator said. “He’s got nobody. Nobody.”
The senator said others also tried to reach out.
“Lots of people saw it happen. Lots of people tried to do something,” he said.
Another senator said Brazeau was also confronted in August 2012.
“I said there are people that have reached out to you, trying to help,” the senator said. “There are many organizations already set up to deal with it.”
His lawyers delayed his next appearance until February 2014, citing Brazeau’s unspecified health problems.
Brazeau’s lawyer, Michel Swanston, said he had not heard about the allegations of Brazeau’s substance issues. He said they are “not at all” related to Brazeau’s current health problems.
“That’s the first time I (heard) about any of this,” said Swanston.
“(Brazeau) is facing criminal charges presently, and that’s what I’m hired for. As far as the gossip in the newspapers and what other senators say about his health, that’s completely irrelevant to the mandate I have.”
Neither Brazeau nor his spokeswoman Debby Simms replied to specific questions about whether he had been approached by colleagues to seek help. Earlier Wednesday, Simms said she was “unable to elaborate on the medical issues (Brazeau) is facing.”
Kicked out of the Conservative caucus and on forced leave from the red chamber, senators say they are worried about how much further Brazeau could fall.
“I am a little concerned about the edge, and where it is for him,” one senator said. “I don’t know if I was worried about that until the last couple weeks.”
Brazeau is also one of three people, including Sen. Mike Duffy and retired senator Mac Harb, currently under RCMP investigation in connection with claiming housing and living expenses from the Senate. Police are also seeking access to Brazeau’s bank records.
Following his arrest, the Senate forced Brazeau to take a leave of absence and took over his expense accounts. Brazeau continues to collect a $132,000 salary.