Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sen. Don Meredith Begs Forgiveness for 'Moral Failing;' Not Ready to Resign

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sen. Don Meredith Begs Forgiveness for 'Moral Failing;' Not Ready to Resign

Article excerpt

Meredith begs forgiveness, not ready to resign

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TORONTO - Embattled Sen. Don Meredith begged forgiveness for his "moral failing" over his sexual relationship with a teenager but said Thursday he was not ready to resign.

Speaking out for the first time since a damning ethics report, Meredith told The Canadian Press he was taking a leave of absence from the Senate on the advice of his doctor, and would be considering his options in the coming days and weeks.

"This is a moral failing on my part," a grim-faced Meredith said in a wide-ranging interview, with his wife Michelle quietly at his side. "As a human being, I made a grave error in judgment, in my interactions. For that I am deeply sorry."

Meredith, 52, repeatedly apologized to his wife, children, his fellow senators and "all Canadians" for the relationship that took place with the woman known only as Ms. M.

His wife and children have forgiven him, he said, and he asked for the same forgiveness from his Senate colleagues and Ms. M herself.

"I believe in the power of forgiveness and reconciliation," he said as his Toronto lawyer looked on. "We're humans, and humans make mistakes."

Meredith's wife did not wish to speak publicly about the allegations and the senator refused to answer if he'd had other affairs.

A chorus of voices has called on Meredith to step down amid questions of whether the Senate has the power to force him to do so. Senate sources have said they believe the upper chamber does have the power to expel a senator and declare the seat vacant, and do so by a simple majority vote.

The six-year Ontario senator said he hoped his contrition should be enough to assuage those who have been calling for him to step down. At the same time, he said, he believed there were no legal grounds to fire him.

Meredith's lawyer, Selwyn Pieters, said the Constitution only allows for the removal of someone convicted of a felony, too many missed sessions, bankruptcy or treason.

"Taken at its highest, the allegation against Sen. Meredith is a moral failing, it's not a legal failing," Pieters said.

Last week, a scathing report from Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard said Meredith failed to uphold the "highest standards of dignity inherent to the position of senator,'' and had acted in a way that could damage the Senate itself. …

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