Former CAP employee wants Federal Court to hear sexual harassment complaint against Senator Brazeau - APTN NewsAPTN News

Former CAP employee wants Federal Court to hear sexual harassment complaint against Senator Brazeau

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News

OTTAWA–A former female employee of an Aboriginal organization is asking the Federal Court to overturn a Human Rights Commission decision to dismiss a sexual harassment complaint against Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau, according to a court document.

Brazeau was the head of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) before he was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

CAP deals primarily with non-status, off reserve First Nations and Metis issues.

The former employee, Alisa Lombard, filed the application on Friday, the last day before a 30 day window to contest the commission’s ruling expired.

According to the application, Lombard alleges she was sexually harassed by Brazeau in December 2007 and January 2008.

Brazeau responded to the Federal Court filing on Twitter.

“I certainly hope you get all the facts on this story, including how often the complainant has introduced complaints and lost,” tweeted Brazeau, who goes by the handle TheBrazman.

Lombard is representing herself in the case. She has completed law school and expects to be called to the bar on June 21, National Aboriginal Day.

The Federal Court application for a judicial review seeks to overturn the commission’s ruling dismissing the complaint without a hearing because it fell outside of its jurisdiction. Lombard argues that the commission erred in law when it made the decision.

The commission handed down the ruling on March 30, and delivered the decision to Lombard on April 3.

“The commission incorrectly, unfairly and unreasonably dismissed the complaint on the basis that the complaint was beyond its jurisdiction,” said the document. “The commission based its decision on an incorrect and unreasonable analysis of CAP’s nature and normal and habitual activities.”

The commission originally agreed to deal with the complaint on Nov. 3, 2010, after a year-long submission process, the document said.

Lombard originally filed her complaint against Brazeau and CAP with the commission in October 2009, after the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal dismissed it on jurisdictional grounds, “favouring federal jurisdiction,” the document said.

Lombard turned to the human rights bodies following an internal CAP investigation of the complaint by a firm hired by the organization.

The investigation concluded that no sexual harassment occurred, but did find “inappropriate behaviour by (Brazeau), including a clearly unwanted and rebuffed ‘inappropriate and stupid’ physical advance, the document stated.

Lombard, who participated in the investigation, said she felt it “inadequately addressed her complaint.”

David Langtry, chief commissioner with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, dismissed the complaint arguing that labour law fell under provincial jurisdiction.

He also found that because CAP’s primary role involved lobbying and “political activities,” it was not “integrally tied to the Indian Act, status, Aboriginal rights” and therefore not a federal issue.

Lombard argues in the document that the commission failed to “recognize the unique constitutional position of Aboriginal peoples in Canada” and “ongoing litigation respecting jurisdiction over Metis and non-status Indians.”

The commission also erred by “refusing to hear a complaint where it was not ‘plain and obvious’ that there is not a prima facie case of discrimination, thereby precluding the complainant from any adjudication of the complaint on the merits, creating an egregious miscarriage of justice.”

Lombard and CAP reached a settlement on the matter in March of this year, the document states.

jbarrera@aptn.ca

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