Senator Don Meredith invited to committee hearing on ethics case April 4
Toronto-area senator could face suspension for his sexual relationship with a teenage girl
Senator Don Meredith has been formally invited to make his case to the Senate committee that is considering sanctions against him following an explosive report on his relationship with a teenage girl.
The Senate ethics committee will meet for a second time behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss the report from the Senate's ethics commissioner, who found Meredith violated the Red Chamber's code of ethics.
Meredith has been invited to attend the committee's meeting a week later, on April 4, for a hearing. Senate rules require Meredith be given an opportunity to mount a defence.
Bill Trudell, the lawyer now representing Meredith, said his client will honour the invitation, but health concerns may keep the senator from appearing in person.
Senate Ethics Officer Lyse Ricard's report followed a two-year investigation into Meredith's sexual relationship with a young woman he first met at an Ottawa church when she was just 16.
It said that Meredith violated two sections of the code of ethics, namely that he did not uphold the highest standards of dignity inherent to his position, and that his actions reflect adversely on the institution of the Senate.
- Senate watchdog says Don Meredith violated ethics code
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Meredith denies many of the allegations levelled against him by the woman in question — who is identified as "Ms. M" in the ethics report — but has said he had sexual intercourse with her on at least one occasion when she was over 18.
Ricard said in her report she was convinced the sexual relationship was more extensive, and began earlier, than that.
The 52-year-old Pentecostal pastor was appointed as a Conservative senator by former prime minister Stephen Harper in 2010 before becoming a member of the Independent Senators Group.
He could face a number of punishments for breaching the ethics code, including suspension without pay. Some senators are so determined to remove him from the Red Chamber, they are considering an outright expulsion.
Ottawa police investigated the matter but dropped the case without laying criminal charges.
Meredith's lawyer said he will fight to keep his client from being expelled from the Senate and is consulting constitutional experts on the case.
Several senators have called for Meredith to resign.