Mered­ith re­signs from Se­nate

Ethics com­mit­tee had rec­om­mended ex­pelling the se­na­tor due to sex­ual mis­con­duct

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JOAN BRYDEN

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.

Don Mered­ith


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