Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Canada's Senate Needs a Complete Overhaul

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Canada's Senate Needs a Complete Overhaul

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Canada's Senate needs a complete overhaul

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published June 18:

First things first: The activity that Senator Don Meredith is alleged to have undertaken with a teenage girl is disgraceful and incompatible with membership in Canada's upper house of Parliament.

This comes only days after separate allegations that Meredith sexually harassed and bullied members of his staff. According to CTV News, those claims were made by four former female staffers and four other Senate employees and are now being investigated by the Senate as part of a "workplace assessment."

Of course, nothing has been proven. But taken together this should be enough for the Senate to suspend Meredith while an investigation is carried out - if he doesn't do the right thing himself and step down immediately. The trail of emails and texts revealing an inappropriate relationship with a young woman who was 16 and 17 years old at the time, reported on Thursday by the Star's Kevin Donovan, speaks for itself. The Conservative party itself has drawn its own conclusions and expelled Meredith from its caucus.

This is the worst possible news for the Senate as the Mike Duffy trial churns on and the stench left by Patrick Brazeau, Pamela Wallin and the others hangs in the air. More importantly, though, it raises new questions about the judgment of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who appointed all these people and quite rightly must take responsibility for the consequences.

What, if any, vetting process did Meredith go through before Harper named him to the Senate in 2010? In all likelihood, none. Appointments to the Senate are treated like so many other patronage positions - to be arbitrarily gifted by the government of the day to its maximum political advantage.

It's always been that way, so where's the news? Perhaps, just perhaps, the pattern of entitlement and misbehaviour revealed so starkly in the Senate scandals may tip public opinion into demanding real change. …

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