OTTAWA — Colleagues of all political stripes pilloried Don Meredith and urged the controversial Conservative senator to give up his Senate seat Friday following an explosive ethics investigation of his sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl.
Sen. Peter Harder, the Liberal government’s point man in the Senate, denounced Meredith’s conduct as disturbing, unacceptable and an affront to Canadian standards of decency as he urged him to step down for the sake of his family.
Even those who once defended Meredith described being fed up, saying the only honourable thing for him to do was never set foot in the Senate again.
Harder said Meredith’s resignation would ensure he didn’t drag himself, his family, the woman he was romantically involved with and the Senate as a whole through the mud — a fate Harder suggested Meredith should want to avoid.
Meredith, a married father of two and an ordained minister, has remained silent and has yet to respond to a request for comment.
It’s unclear if the Senate has the authority to expel Meredith over the conduct detailed in Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard’s report.
The upper chamber has never turfed one of its own for any reason.
Most famously, it did in 2013 suspend three senators without pay for a parliamentary session — Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau. And in 1998, Andy Thompson retired after being suspended without pay for having barely set foot on Parliament Hill for years.
Several senators said they would like to see the Senate impose the harshest punishments possible against Meredith.
“I’d be very disappointed if he walked through the doors of the Senate again,” said Conservative Sen. David Wells of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In a long-awaited report released Thursday, Ricard said Meredith failed to uphold the “highest standards of dignity inherent to the position of senator” and acted in a way that could damage the Senate itself.
The report found Meredith, 52, used his Senate cellphone for explicit chats, tried to help the woman land an internship on Parliament Hill, promised her a committee appointment and suggested he could help with her mother’s permanent residency file.