Ethics committee calls for expulsion of Sen. Don Meredith over sex with teen
The Senate ethics committee has recommended that the upper house take the unprecedented step of expelling disgraced Sen. Don Meredith for engaging in a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
It’s now up to the full Senate, which has never before expelled a member, to decide whether to accept or reject the recommendation, which also calls on the chamber to declare Meredith’s seat vacant.
“He has brought disrepute to himself and to the institution,” the committee said in a scathing report released Tuesday.
“Your committee is of the opinion that Sen. Meredith’s misconduct has demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as a senator. His presence in the chamber would in itself discredit the institution.
“No lesser sanction than expulsion would repair the harm he has done to the Senate.”
Meredith must be given five sitting days in which to respond to the report, should he wish, so a vote on his fate can’t occur before next Tuesday at the earliest.
According to the report, Meredith’s lawyer proposed that the senator be suspended without pay for one or two years. But the committee concluded that “a suspension would reinstate only temporarily the Senate’s dignity and integrity, which would again be compromised when Sen. Meredith would resume his seat.”
The Senate has undisputed authority to suspend senators and did so recently with senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau while they were under investigation for allegedly filing fraudulent expense claims.
Its power to expel is less clear.
The committee ultimately accepted the legal opinion of the law clerk and parliamentary counsel to the Senate that the Constitution confers on the upper house the same privileges enjoyed by the United Kingdom’s House of Commons. Since the U.K. Commons can permanently eject a member, so too can Canada’s Senate.
The committee’s recommendation follows an explosive report from Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard earlier this year.
She concluded that Meredith, a 52-year-old, married, Pentecostal minister, had failed to uphold the “highest standards of dignity inherent to the position of senator” and acted in a way that could damage the Senate itself.
According to Ricard, Meredith began a relationship with the girl when she was just 16; it progressed from flirtatious online chats to fondling and sexually explicit live videos and, eventually, to sexual intercourse — once shortly before the teen turned 18 and twice after. She also found that Meredith had abused his position as a senator to take advantage of the teen.