New senator faces allegations over conduct as chief of aboriginal group

An aboriginal leader who was recently appointed to the Senate is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour toward former staff in his organization.

Brazeau says independent probe determined allegations false

An aboriginal leader who was recently appointed to the Senate is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour toward staff in his organization.

A sexual harassment complaint against Patrick Brazeau, national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, is now before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Brazeau is also named in an internal grievance filed last year by a different woman who worked at the CAP office in Ottawa.

The allegations became public after Brazeau was appointed to the Senate in December.

In an interview with CBC News, Jade Harper recalled how excited she was when she started working as an events co-ordinator at CAP in 2007.

"I felt like I was able to actually make a difference," said Harper, 25.

That opportunity quickly turned sour, she said.

"Something I noticed in the first couple of weeks was the abuse of alcohol inside and outside of office, where the executive would come back drunk in the afternoons," she said.

She said sexual behaviour in the office was a "common occurrence daily" and alleged her boss played a role.

"It was Patrick absolutely, and it was other staff members as well," she said.

She said she wrote a three-page grievance directly to Brazeau outlining her concerns. After meetings and letters sent back and forth, nothing was resolved, she said, so she returned home to Winnipeg.

Harper said she decided to go public after hearing Brazeau had been appointed to the Senate and another former employee had filed a sexual harassment complaint against him.

The unidentified complainant alleges Brazeau sexually harassed her from late 2007 through early 2008, the Globe and Mail reported on Tuesday.

'My integrity is not at stake here,' says chief

Brazeau said the allegations were investigated and dismissed by an independent mediation firm last year.

"The conclusions of the investigation was that there was no wrongdoing, there was no sexual harassment and therefore, the allegations were false, and that's now case closed," Brazeau told CBC News on Wednesday.

"My integrity is not at stake here."

But Will Menard, one of Brazeau's former board members from Manitoba, told CBC News that the board voted not to release the final investigators' report, but the executive summary said there was inappropriate behaviour.

"In my mind, he's not cleared at all," Menard said.

Menard added it is true Brazeau's behaviour didn't breach CAP's sexual harassment policy, but only because the policy is so weak.

Strahl: Brazeau will 'provide good leadership'

Brazeau said he wants to put the allegations behind him, so he can concentrate on his new job. He is consulting with the Senate ethics officer to see if he can be a senator and keep his position as the CAP's national chief.

Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl wouldn't comment Wednesday on the allegations, but said Brazeau will be an excellent senator.

"I'm sure he'll do great work," Strahl said. "He's a good man. He will do the right things as he goes forward, and he'll provide good leadership both on Quebec issues and aboriginal issues."

Brazeau and 17 other new senators appointed by the prime minister are to be sworn in later this month.