Open letter urges Senator Don Meredith to resign over relationship with teen

An open letter from Senator Andre Pratte to members of the Red Chamber urges fellow Senator Don Meredith to "do the right thing" and step aside in the wake of a scathing report about his sexual relationship with a teenage girl.

Senate could suffer 'unnecessary and lasting harm' if Meredith stays on, warns Senator Andre Pratte

Senator Don Meredith is again facing pressure to step aside as quickly as possible, following a scathing report on his sexual relationship with a teenage girl. (CBC News)

After a weekend of silence, Senator Don Meredith is facing renewed pressure to step down from the Red Chamber in the wake of a scathing report about his sexual relationship with a teenage girl.

In an open letter obtained by CBC News, Senator Andre Pratte begged Meredith to leave quickly, for the sake of his colleagues. 

"I am writing to plead with you to resign from the Senate as soon as possible," the letter says. "If you do not, I am afraid you will do yourself and, most importantly, the institution, unnecessary and lasting harm."

On Thursday, the Senate's ethics watchdog issued a critical report, finding Meredith violated Senate rules for having a relationship with a 16-year-old girl. 

"The Senate Ethics Officer's report about what happened 2-3 years ago is as damning as it is thorough. The fact that throughout the inquiry you have not been cooperative adds to the injury," Pratte wrote in the letter that was sent to all members of the Senate.

"As a Senator, and as a man, your conduct was unconscionable. Although you have since taken "remedial steps", you have not issued an apology, to your victim, to the Senate or to Canadians, which you should have done long ago."

Senator Andre Pratte issued the open letter on Sunday. It urges Meredith to resign for the sake of the institution. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)

Meredith has not responded to multiple requests for an interview. But when CBC News visited his Richmond Hill, Ont., home, a woman who refused to identify herself said Meredith has no plans to resign.

Pratte told CBC News that Meredith has not responded to the letter.

Not 'fit to serve'

The letter compares Meredith's situation to that of former Justice Robin Camp, who is known as the "knees together judge."

Camp resigned last week after Canada's judicial watchdog suggested he be removed from the bench over comments he made during a sexual assault trial. 

"The steps taken are far from sufficient to reestablish the public's and your colleagues' confidence in your ability to uphold the 'highest standards of dignity' required of a member of Senate by our Code of Ethics," says Pratte's letter. "In any event, as the Canadian Judicial Council remarks in the recent Robin Camp case, even 'sincere apologies and extensive education' sometimes 'do not adequately repair the damage caused to public confidence.'"

Pratte ends the letter by urging Meredith to think of his family and make a decision quickly.

Should Senator Don Meredith be forced to resign?

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"If you sincerely admit to your mistakes, persons of good will and of faith will forgive you; I certainly will. Hopefully, you and your family will be able to rebuild your lives together. But that will not render you fit to serve as a member of the Senate of Canada. In my mind, you have lost that ability forever.

"Please, Senator Meredith, do the right thing. For you, and for the Senate, an institution which I am sure you love deeply and whose reputation has suffered enough already."

Committee to discuss Meredith's fate

The standing committee on ethics and conflict of interest for senators will now assess the report on Meredith's behaviour. 

According to a statement from Shaila Anwar, acting clerk of the committee, it will "...consider the inquiry report as promptly as circumstances permit and recommend the appropriate remedial measures or sanctions to the Senate. Any recommended measures and sanctions become effective once adopted by the Senate.

"The members of the committee will make no comment on the matter of the inquiry report until the committee reports to the Senate."


Katie Simpson is a foreign correspondent with CBC News based in Washington. Prior to joining the team in D.C. she spent six years covering Parliament Hill in Ottawa and nearly a decade covering local and provincial issues in Toronto.

With files from CBC's John Paul Tasker