Conservative leader says Braley's resignation not about senate scandal

Appointed in May of 2010 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the conservative senator ended his term on Nov. 30, 2013.
David Braley, owner of the B.C. Lions, is doused with champagne by players after the team's Grey Cup win Sunday. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Leader of the Government in the Senate, Claude Carignan, said Tuesday, that while "every senator has had a bad experience" with the senate scandal involving Conservative party senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin he didn't think it was part of Hamilton's senator David Braley's decision to resign.

In November, Carignan introduced a motion to punish Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin for “gross negligence” in their handling of expense claims. The three were suspended without pay but with benefits.

A written statement from Braley's office dated Nov. 30 advises that the Governor General has been notified of his resignation effective that date.

The statement does not state a reason for his resignation, but Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina said he understands he wants more time to enjoy his life.

I think he and his wife have a lot of things they want to do.- Mayor Bob Bratina

"I had a brief chat with him [this morning]," Bratina said. "He sounds fine. I think he and his wife have a lot of things they want to do."

The prominent Hamilton businessman and philanthropist was appointed by prime minister Stephen Harper on May 20, 2010. He is 72 and could have served until age 75.

Bratina said Hamilton will miss Braley's presence in the Senate, and that it was "critical" to have a local senator serve in the red chamber.

"To have that voice – and a voice that was listened to because Mr. Braley was very influential with the prime minister and his ministers – I can’t say enough about how important it is to have that direct communication," Bratina told CBC Hamilton. "It enables me now in the political sphere to have a connection to the highest levels of administration in the federal government."

Braley started his career as a business man at the Hamilton General Motors Acceptance Corporation. He acquired  Orlick Industries, an auto parts manufacturer, in 1969 and remains the president and owner. Orlick has three operations in Hamilton.

"He's been an enormous presence as a job creator and philanthropist," said Terry Cooke, head of the Hamilton Community Foundation, former regional chairman, and someone who has known Braley for many years. "He's made a huge commitment to giving back."

Braley helped bring Pan Am Games to Hamilton: Bratina

Aside from the mark he made on local business, Bratina cites his work with the 2015 Pan Am Games as one of his greatest contributions to Hamilton and local municipalities. Braley made the suggestion to include cities surrounding Toronto, he said, and spread the wealth an international, multi-sporting event brings.

"That was a radical change and has brought so much good to not only Hamilton but those communities – Milton getting the velodrome and Niagara getting the water sports," he said.

"Just think, because of people with specific interest in Hamilton, it brought great value and assets to Hamilton, but also impacted the Niagara Peninsula and the GTA."

Braley put Hamilton on the world stage when he brought – almost single-handedly, Bratina said – the 2003 Road World Cycling Championship to the city.

Braley also is a prominent supporter of the Canadian Football League and owns both the Toronto Argonauts and B.C Lions. And it was his B. C. players commentary on the city's core that prompted Braley to make multi-million dollar investments in downtown Hamilton.

"The Lions weren’t comfortable staying in downtown Hamilton and he said, 'We’ve got to do something for that downtown and the university should play a role,'" Bratina said.

"We have the McMaster downtown faculty of medicine and he was the instigator in that. He put up $10 million bucks and said we want that site downtown. So there we have it, all the related development."

Braley also made contributions to the David Braley Cardiac, Vascular and Stroke Research Institute at Hamilton General Hospital and McMaster University's athletic centre, both named in his honour. Coun. Lloyd Ferguson first met him while serving on the Hamilton Health Sciences board.

"He’s an honest, hard working guy who’s blunt," Ferguson said. "He’ll tell you right to your face if you're messing up. I like that style."

Cooke calls Braley's resignation a "significant loss," and hopes Hamilton keeps a representative when a successor is announced.

"Having a minister of the crown deeply rooted in the community makes a significant difference," he said. "The hope has to be consideration will be given to the importance of representation to one of Canada's most important cities."

Not everyone thinks the presence of a Hamiltonian matters in the Senate. Coun. Sam Merulla of Ward 4 lauds Braley's contributions to the local economy. But anyone's presence in the Senate is "mostly ceremonial" and has "no direct linkage to democracy," he said.

"Every single one of them could be from Hamilton and it would have very little impact on actual legislation."


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