Politics

Senate committee wants to strip Don Meredith of his 'honourable' title

The Senate's ethics committee wants to strip disgraced former senator Don Meredith of his "honourable" title to protect the "dignity and reputation" of the upper house.

Former Ontario senator resigned before his colleagues could expel him over relationship with teenage girl

Sen. Don Meredith resigned from the upper house in the wake of a damning account of his relationship with a young woman. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)

The Senate's ethics committee wants to strip disgraced former senator Don Meredith of his "honourable" title to protect the "dignity and reputation" of the upper house.

Under the table of titles used in Canada, senators are to be styled "honourable" for life — even after they resign or retire from the Upper House.

Meredith resigned from the Senate in 2017 as his former colleagues were preparing to expel him over a Senate ethics officer (SEO) report that detailed his inappropriate relationship with a teenage girl.

Since then, another SEO report found Meredith also engaged in behaviour that constituted harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace.

The ethics committee, under the leadership of Progressive Sen. Serge Joyal, will study the matter in the coming weeks. Joyal said the committee would invite Meredith to appear before it to make his case for keeping the title.

Joyal proposed Tuesday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recommend the Governor General strip Meredith of the title "honourable" and that the former senator no longer receive any precedence or status normally accorded to a senator. Joyal said the committee will make final decision on the matter no later than Jan. 31, 2020.

Canadian Senators Group Sen. Josée Verner is proposing the Senate forgo a study and move straight to recommending that Trudeau call on Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to remove the lifetime title.

Even if Meredith is stripped of his honorific, he will still collect his Senate pension.

Under the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act, if a parliamentarian resigns and has at least six years of pensionable service, they are entitled to receive a pension.

Some independent senators have proposed compensating Meredith's alleged workplace victims.

Six former Senate employees and a parliamentary constable have alleged Meredith acted inappropriately toward them while he was serving in the upper house. The alleged behaviour included unwanted kissing and exposing his penis, along with yelling and aggressive behaviour in the office.

About the Author

John Paul Tasker

Parliamentary Bureau

John Paul (J.P.) Tasker is a reporter in the CBC's Parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. He can be reached at john.tasker@cbc.ca.

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