The Senate of Canada building and Senate Chamber are pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Marilou McPhedran resigns from senators’ group before hearing on her expulsion

Marilou McPhedran resigns from senators’ group before hearing on her expulsion

OTTAWA — A senator resigned Monday from the upper chamber’s biggest parliamentary group before a hearing could take place to consider kicking her out.

Sen. Marilou McPhedran resigned from the Independent Senators’ Group (ISG) because she did not think she would receive a fair hearing.

McPhedran, who was named to the Senate in 2016 by the prime minister, says in a resignation letter that the hearing “seems preordained in its negative outcome for me.”

A hearing set up to consider expelling her was set up after she sent an email in September to all senators questioning how the chamber’s ethics code was being applied.

McPhedran was also concerned about the Senate’s policy on prevention of sexual harassment, and disagreed with the ISG about its approach to this as well as other issues.

In her resignation letter to the Independent Senators’ Group, sent to all members, she outlines a series of criticisms, including the fact that a request for her hearing to be made in public was refused.

Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, facilitator of the ISG, says McPhedran was “offered an opportunity to defend herself through a fair and impartial hearing according to the provisions of the ISG charter.”

“Her resignation letter is an attempt to cast doubt on the integrity of the hearing itself and raise issues that are not relevant to the expulsion hearing. By raising these issues outside of the hearing process, she also deprived ISG members the opportunity to hear the case for her expulsion and the rebuttal to her claims,” he said.

McPhedran, a lawyer and human rights advocate, plans to stay in the Senate as an unaffiliated independent senator.

She told The Canadian Press: “In my five years as a senator I have appreciated my membership of the Independent Senators Group, but it is clearly time to leave and I am feeling sadness but I am also feeling relief and a sense of optimism about what I will be able to do as an unaffiliated independent senator.”

She said in a statement that she looked forward to “collaborating with senators of all groups and caucuses on legislation, issues, and policies that further the public interest.”

She said she wants to focus on reform to lower the voting age to 16 as well as “Senate reform and modernization.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2021.

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press