Patrick Brazeau Suggests Theresa Spence Gained Weight During Protest

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At a fundraising dinner Tuesday, Senator Patrick Brazeau suggested Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence grew
At a fundraising dinner Tuesday, Senator Patrick Brazeau suggested Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence grew "fatter" during her hunger protest. (CP)

Patrick Brazeau ridiculed Theresa Spence Tuesday night, less than a week after the Attawapiskat chief's Twitter account called the Conservative senator "a "typical colonized indian asshole."

It seems Brazeau, an aboriginal man from the Kitigan Zibi reserve in Quebec, was unable to accept the public relations victory handed to him by Spence's camp and so took to the stage at a fundraising event in an Ottawa suburb to suggest the chief actually gained weight during the six weeks she went without solid food.

Brazeau referred to the protest as a "so-called hunger strike" and said "I was sick two weeks ago ... I had the flu and I lost five pounds," according to the Toronto Star.

"I look at Miss Spence, when she started her hunger strike, and now?" Brazeau asked. A spectator then cried out, "She's fatter," sparking laughter.

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Brazeau was not the only Conservative to take on Spence and Idle No More in a less than dignified tone at the event.

Ottawa-Orléans Tory MP Royal Galipeau also spoke at the event, relaying the story of how he visited Spence's camp on Victoria Island by slipping in without identifying himself.

Galipeau went on to suggest that Spence is living the high-life. "I noticed that manicure of hers. I tell you Anne can’t afford it," he said, referencing his wife, according to Your Ottawa Region.

Brazeau also spoke at length about the lack of accountability on reserves when it comes to spending, a favourite topic for the senator and one on which he has blogged for HuffPost Canada.

Galipeau argued the Idle No More movement is made up of the same people who took part in Occupy events and the Quebec student protests.

Brazeau is far from the first to suggest Spence's hunger strike was less-than authentic.

The National Post's Barbara Kay triggered controversy earlier this month by comparing the hunger protest to going on a fruit juice cleanse and suggesting Spence's diet of fish broth and tea was a "great deal healthier than the Chief’s regular regime, which I am going to assume from her appearance includes a lot of carbohydrates."

Writing in the Daily Beast, David Frum criticized reporters for not investigating Spence's diet more closely and also suggested Spence gained weight.

Some news outlets stopped calling Spence's protest a hunger strike after it became known that she was consuming calories. "Liquid diet" became a popular replacement phrase, a linguistic turnabout savaged by blogger Leanne Simpson on HuffPost

"As if a liquid diet doesn't take a substantial physical, mental and emotional toll or substantial physical, mental and emotional strength to accomplish," Simpson wrote.

As has happened so many times before, it seems the debate over First Nations issues has degenerated into insults and insinuation. Let's hope those on all sides of the debate can turn down the rhetoric and get down to the business of improving life for Canada's indigenous peoples.

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