Gov't rep in Senate 'sickened' by Meredith report
Published Saturday, March 11, 2017 7:08AM EST
Senator Peter Harder says he was sickened by the Senate ethics officer's report into Don Meredith, an independent senator accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage woman.
Harder, the government's representative in the upper chamber, is calling for Meredith to resign his seat, and says he behaved unacceptably.
Speaking to Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period, Harder said he hopes it's possible to expel Meredith from the Senate.
"I was sickened by the report. It is completely unacceptable behaviour by anybody, let alone a legislator," Harder said in an interview to air Sunday.
"There is a debateable, at least, power of the Senate to evict a senator from the Senate," Harder said.
"If that proves itself not to be possible ... we ought to have a process in place to be able to do that after due process, and the due process is now in place.”
Senate Ethics Officer Lyse Ricard found Meredith had a sexual relationship with the woman, known only as Ms. M, after meeting her at a Black History event at a church when she was 16 and he was 48.
"Senator Meredith drew upon the weight, prestige and notability of his office, as well as his relative position of power as a much older adult, to lure or attract Ms. M, a teenager who, by virtue of her age, was necessarily vulnerable," Ricard wrote.
"Senator Meredith did not treat his relationship with Ms. M as a 'personal matter'; rather his conduct toward her was substantially intermingled with his role as a senator... Senator Meredith made promises and suggestions to Ms. M that he would draw on the resources, weight and authority of his office as senator... to promote, assist and advance Ms. M and members of her family," she wrote.
The report, Harder said, "reflects that [Meredith has] broken the ethics rules of the Senate."
The next step is for the Senate ethics committee to consider the report and hear from Meredith, if he chooses to speak to them. The ethics committee can then recommend sanctions to the Senate, which will vote on the recommendations.
Pollster Nik Nanos says the Senate will be judged by how it reacts to the report's findings.
"If it mishandles this, if he stays on board for a long period of time, if he fights it, if there's a mishap, then it's just not going to be good news for the Senate," Nanos, chairman of Nanos Research, said on Question Period.
The Senate's reputation was roughed up during Stephen Harper's time as prime minister, Nanos said, but the transition to a more independent Senate has made people feel better about it.
"Then something like this happens. So how the Senate reacts will be critical in terms of the potential damage of this."
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