Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: To Save Senate, Meredith Has to Go

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: To Save Senate, Meredith Has to Go

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: To save Senate, Meredith has to go

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published May 4:

And so, it has come to this: members of this country's Senate must decide whether the behaviour of one of their own is so egregious that it merits the most severe punishment available under the upper chamber's rules: expulsion.

It has never happened before. But the Senate's ethics committee has concluded that the actions of Sen. Don Meredith, a 52-year-old married Pentecostal pastor who engaged in a years-long inappropriate sexual relationship with a teenage girl, have "brought disrepute to himself and the institution" and therefore merit his permanent removal.

"No lesser sanction than expulsion would repair the harm he has done to the Senate," the committee's report concluded.

That this extreme measure has never been employed in the chamber's 150-year history says as much about the Senate's inability -- or, perhaps, unwillingness -- to police itself as it does about the noxious nature of Mr. Meredith's misdeeds. And the manner in which the upper house's members decide Mr. Meredith's fate will have a significant impact on the public's perception of a body whose reputation has long been in tatters.

The facts of the Meredith case are both troubling and tawdry, recounted in great detail in the inquiry report prepared by Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard. In summary, Mr. Meredith engaged in a two-year relationship with a young woman he met at a public function in Ottawa in 2013, when he was 48 and she was 16; the teen, identified in the report only as "Ms. M," approached the senator after the event with the intention of shaking his hand and getting a photograph. He gave her his business card and asked her to contact him.

What followed was a lengthy interaction during which Mr. …

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