Meredith resigns from Senate
Ethics committee had recommended expelling the senator due to sexual misconduct
OTTAWA — Disgraced Sen. Don Meredith is resigning from the Senate rather than wait to see if his colleagues expel him for engaging in a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
The Senate was poised to vote as early as Wednesday on a Senate ethics committee report, which last week concluded that Meredith is unfit to serve as a senator and recommended that the upper house take the unprecedented step of expelling him.
But Meredith pre-empted the vote by announcing his resignation in a statement Tuesday.
“I am acutely aware that the upper chamber is more important than my moral failings,” Meredith’s statement reads.
“After consulting with my family, community leaders and my counsel over the past several weeks, I have decided to move forward with my life with the full support of my wife and my children. I am blessed to have had their unconditional love and support throughout this ordeal. It is my hope that my absence from the Senate will allow the senators to focus their good work on behalf of all Canadians.”
The statement does not explicitly refer to resignation, nor did the Senate have immediate confirmation of his departure. However, Meredith’s lawyer, Bill Trudell, confirmed that Meredith had decided to resign.
Had Meredith not agreed to go voluntarily, it’s virtually certain his former colleagues would have voted overwhelmingly to give him the boot.
“Good riddance,” said Conservative Sen. Denise Batters on hearing about Meredith’s resignation.
The Senate has never expelled one of its members and Meredith’s resignation leaves untested the chamber’s legal authority to do so.
The Senate has no explicit power to expel a member. But the ethics committee 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, they reasoned, so too can Canada’s Senate.
In his statement, Meredith says expulsion would have “major implications” for the Senate.