Disgraced Don Meredith Quits Senate Rather Than Face Expulsion Vote

By Joan Bryden and Kristy Kirkup | The Canadian Press, May 9, 2017 | Go to article overview

Disgraced Don Meredith Quits Senate Rather Than Face Expulsion Vote


Joan Bryden and Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press


Disgraced Don Meredith resigns from Senate

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OTTAWA - Sen. Don Meredith, his name now inexorably linked with his sexual relationship with a teenage girl, declared Tuesday he would resign his Senate seat, short-circuiting what could have been a historic vote to kick him out of the upper chamber.

The Senate had been poised to vote as early as Wednesday on an explosive Senate ethics committee report that found Meredith unfit to serve as a senator and recommended that the upper house take the unprecedented step of expelling him.

Meredith pre-empted that vote Tuesday with a terse, 174-word statement.

"I am acutely aware that the upper chamber is more important than my moral failings," the statement said.

"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 did 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.

"All I would say, I guess, is 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 gives the upper house the same privileges enjoyed by the United Kingdom's House of Commons, which can permanently eject a member.

In his statement, Meredith said expulsion would have "major implications" for the Senate.

"This is a constitutional fight in which I will not engage."

The ethics committee's recommendation followed an explosive report from Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard earlier this year.

Ricard concluded that Meredith, a 52-year-old married Pentecostal minister, had failed to uphold the "highest standards of dignity inherent to the position of senator" and acted in a way that could damage the Senate itself. …

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