Not about race

BY NICOLE CLARK

Canadian senator Don Meredith, currently the target of calls by the public and Senate to step down from his position after his two-year affair with a 16-year-old came to light, is declaring that his race is the reason for the barrage of comments.

Meredith, who is also a Pentecostal pastor and a married man, is adamant that he did not break any laws, when, in 2013 at the age of 48, he began the relationship. He knew exactly what he was doing when he started flirtatious interactions with the unnamed teen. This flirtation grew to sexually explicit live videos involving fondling, where he would masturbate while the girl removed her clothes. According to a story on thestar.com, the couple had sexual intercourse both before and after she turned 18.

The public and other Canadian senators want Meredith to step down because he did not uphold the highest standards of dignity and ethics that those who sit in a position of authority, especially that of the Canadian government, should.

No charges have been laid as of yet, because the teenager does not want to pursue them. But the fact remains that Meredith has broken the trust of many through his actions.

He also places further scrutiny on the Senate as a whole. The public already thinks that senators believe they are untouchable and holier-than-thou, which is reflected in their actions. For example, in June 2012 when Michael Ferguson, the auditor general, released a study of Senate expense claims, some senators were accused of fudging their travel and living expenses. Then, in December 2012, Sen. Mike Duffy’s claim that his primary residence was in P.E.I. raised questions due to his longtime residence in Ottawa. In November 2013 Sen. Pamela Wallin was suspended without pay for the duration of the 41st Canadian parliament for what was termed “alleged theft from the public purse.” At issue were her travel expenses – a whopping $321,000 since September 2010. She said the subsequent suspension was “baseless and premature.”

These examples are proof that the Senate operates as an old men’s and women’s club. These people think that because of their position of authority, they are allowed to act any way they wish, without any real-world repercussions. This needs to change. The Senate’s code of conduct must be rewritten to include offences resulting in dismissal. Those should include poor attendance, inaccurate record keeping, any impropriety and anything that taints the image of the Senate.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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