Mered­ith’s vic­tims feel bul­lied by Se­nate

PROCESS AT IS­SUE

Ottawa Citizen - - Canada - TERESA WRIGHT

OT­TAWA • Two women who worked for for­mer sen­a­tor Don Mered­ith say the in­de­pen­dent process es­tab­lished by the Se­nate to de­ter­mine com­pen­sa­tion for Mered­ith’s ha­rass­ment vic­tims is “to­tally un­ac­cept­able” and is re­vic­tim­iz­ing them.

The two women spoke to The Cana­dian Press on con­di­tion of anonymity to­gether with their lawyer, Brian Mitchell.

They say they feel they’re be­ing bul­lied by the Se­nate into tak­ing part in a com­pen­sa­tion process they be­lieve is un­fair and opaque.

For­mer Que­bec ap­peals court judge Louise Otis has been hired as an in­de­pen­dent eval­u­a­tor and has been tasked to speak with for­mer em­ploy­ees in Mered­ith’s office and re­view all ma­te­ri­als from two pre­vi­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions, in­clud­ing one com­pleted a year ago by the Se­nate ethics of­fi­cer.

That lengthy probe found Mered­ith re­peat­edly ha­rassed and sex­u­ally ha­rassed mul­ti­ple em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing with bul­ly­ing, in­tim­i­da­tion, kiss­ing and touch­ing.

Those par­tic­i­pat­ing in Otis’s eval­u­a­tion are not al­lowed to use lawyers, their le­gal costs won’t be cov­ered and Otis’ fi­nal de­ci­sions on com­pen­sa­tion will not be bind­ing on the Se­nate — terms the two chal­leng­ing the process say are un­ac­cept­able and they are re­fus­ing to par­tic­i­pate.

They are also con­cerned that when eval­u­at­ing how much com­pen­sa­tion each is en­ti­tled to, Otis is not be­ing asked to con­sider the Se­nate’s duty of care to pro­tect them as em­ploy­ees.

“With­out look­ing at the li­a­bil­ity and ac­cept­ing li­a­bil­ity of the Se­nate for the acts that hap­pened to these vic­tims from the date of their em­ploy­ment with Sen. Mered­ith to the date hereof is, we sug­gest, an area that we hope the terms of ref­er­ence will be amended so that it will be a full re­view of all dam­ages that have been suf­fered,” Mitchell said on be­half of his clients.

“Sec­ondly, we ask that there be a level play­ing field es­tab­lished ... How can they de­fend them­selves, how can they tes­tify and how can they rep­re­sent them­selves when they don’t have the same level play­ing field of the Se­nate as an in­sti­tu­tion?”

In a state­ment of re­gret made last month in the Up­per Cham­ber, Sen. Sabi Mar­wah, the chair of the Se­nate’s com­mit­tee on in­ter­nal econ­omy, bud­gets and ad­min­is­tra­tion, said Mered­ith’s ac­tions war­rant “an un­equiv­o­cal con­dem­na­tion from the Se­nate and from all sen­a­tors.”

Mered­ith re­signed from the Se­nate in 2017. He has not faced any crim­i­nal charges.

Don Mered­ith

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