Don Martin: Senate doesn't have the constitution to oust Don Meredith
Don Meredith is seen in his Toronto lawyer's office in downtown Toronto on Thursday, March 16, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel)
Conventional wisdom has it that Senator Don Meredith will soon be tossed out the Senate door with a “good riddance” sticker on his back.
His disgraceful stalking of a teenage girl, who eventually and reluctantly succumbed to a sexual relationship under the heavy sway of his honorable title, is toxic to a Senate trying to rehabilitate itself in public esteem.
But constitutional reality suggests the forced Meredith eviction will never happen.
The ethics committee heard Meredith’s side of the story this week, which was basically to agree to a statement of sordid facts with a plea for forgiveness.
But even as a Red Chamber with a fresh independence streak, senators will invariably act as they’ve always done: It’s all about preserving the club under the cover of the Constitution, a cozy club where membership is almost impossible to revoke without a criminal conviction in court.
Meredith may have been busted for warped predatory behavior, but he has committed no act giving his fellow senators the constitutional grounds for an unprecedented ouster.
His attendance meets the requirement so, unless he revokes his citizenship, declares bankruptcy, commits treason or gives up the pittance of property a sitting Senator must own, he’s in the clear.
It’s the best job security that political patronage can buy.
That’s why Don Meredith is refusing to quit, despite knowing he’ll be a parliamentary pariah where fellow senators will cross the road to avoid his handshake.
Given his sexual behavior, the former pastor will find it impossible to find alternative employment coming close to a guaranteed Senate paycheque.
His only option involves clinging to the $133,000 salary while hoping time erases his sexual stigma before he retires on July 13, 2039 with millions of tax dollars squandered on keeping him fed at the trough.
It’s a moral failure of Senate rules that someone using their position to prey on someone, whose only mistake was trusting a pastor with a warped proclivity for young girls, is not enough to rate instant dismissal.
Name any other job where employment would be pink-slip-protected under those circumstances. It doesn’t exist.
Don Meredith should soon be banished as an ex-senator. Unfortunately, the Senate doesn’t have the constitution to make it happen.
That’s the Last Word.