Don Meredith staff harassment case triggers Senate code of conduct inquiry
Senate can punish 'conduct unbecoming of a senator' with a suspension
The Senate's ethics watchdog says she is moving ahead with a full investigation of a Toronto-area senator over allegations of workplace harassment.
The decision is a sign that Lyse Ricard believes there is enough to the allegations against Independent Sen. Don Meredith to warrant an inquiry into his behaviour to see if it violated the Senate's code of conduct.
The code doesn't allow the ethics officer to publicly explain why she decides to proceed with an investigation after a preliminary review, but her office says a final report will be made when she completes her work.
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Meredith did not immediately return a request for comment.
The ethics code allows the Senate to punish conduct unbecoming of a senator or that damages the image of the Senate.
Penalties range from a forced public apology on the floor of the Senate to suspension without pay.
Staffers won't file formal complaints
The Senate first ordered the investigation into Meredith's office almost a year ago after top senators, including former Speaker Pierre Claude Nolin, witnessed what they felt was a troubling turnover of staff in Meredith's office.
A workplace assessment by an outside investigator unearthed what Senate sources have said were allegations of workplace harassment against Meredith, with six former staffers alleging he was rude and unprofessional towards staff.
The investigation report has not been made public and the allegations it contains remain unproven.
None of the staffers who took part, or whose stories are included in the report, wanted to file a formal complaint against Meredith.
Meredith resigned from the Conservative caucus in June after the Toronto Star published allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl. Those allegations were the subject of a second ethics review that Ricard put on hold after a request from police investigating the allegations.
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Through a lawyer retained after the Star story was published, Meredith said he fully intended to respect the internal procedures of the Senate.