Ethics com­mit­tee calls for ex­pul­sion of Sen. Don Mered­ith over sex with teen

Cape Breton Post - - Canada -

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.

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