Senator Don Meredith facing review after staff harassment, bullying allegations

High staff turnover in the office of Ontario Senator Don Meredith has prompted an independent workplace assessment, the Senate confirmed Thursday.

High staff turnover in Ontario senator's office prompted investigation

Conservative Don Meredith is under investigation, the Senate confirmed, following allegations of staff harassment and bullying. The review was triggered by high staff turnover in the Ontario senator's office. (CBC News)

High staff turnover in the office of Conservative Senator Don Meredith has prompted an independent workplace assessment, the Senate confirmed Thursday.

CBC News has learned the Senate initiated the review in February amid rumours of harassment and bullying in Meredith's office. No formal complaint was made.

The concerns related to at least four employees.

An outside firm is investigating and is expected to report back to the Senate's steering committee on internal economy, budgets and administration in the next couple of weeks.

It will be up to the committee to decide the next steps, such as an internal resolution or passing the matter on to the Senate ethics officer for further examination.

"No comments," Meredith said Thursday on his way into the Senate chamber.

Meredith, named by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to represent Ontario in December 2010, is an ordained minister and volunteer pastor.

Meredith was not among the 30 current and former senators flagged for nearly $1 million in questionable spending claims in the auditor general's report released this week.

Earlier controversies

Meredith's time in the Senate has not been without controversy.

In 2012, Meredith landed in trouble with members of his own caucus for appearing at a Persian cultural event at Ottawa City Hall, which was co-organized by the Iranian embassy. The Prime Minister's Office distanced itself from Meredith after the event, saying Meredith wasn't there representing the government, which has taken a hard line against Iran.

Last year, Meredith repaid the Senate for a trip he and his wife took to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. The annual event draws some 3,000 politicians and diplomats, including the U.S. president.

Meredith also landed in hot water for referring to himself as "Dr. Don Meredith" in press releases, despite the fact his
doctorate came from a institution that didn't have degree-granting abilities.

Similar questions were raised about his purported master's degree, which the PMO touted when it announced Meredith's Senate appointment.

with files from Rosie Barton, Tom Parry and The Canadian Press