Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators
Inquiry Report under the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators
March 22, 2017
Ottawa – The Standing Senate Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators met today in respect of the Inquiry Report under the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators concerning Senator Don Meredith.
On March 9, 2017, the Senate Ethics Officer (SEO), Ms. Lyse Ricard, provided the committee with her Inquiry Report respecting the conduct of Senator Don Meredith. At the first opportunity on the same day, the committee made the Inquiry Report public by depositing it with the Clerk of the Senate. The Inquiry Report found that Senator Meredith had engaged in an improper relationship with a teenager, and that: “Senator Meredith failed to uphold the highest standards of dignity inherent to the position of Senator and acted in a way that could reflect adversely on the position of Senator or the institution of the Senate” (p. 28), contrary to section 7.1 of the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators.
The Inquiry Report of the SEO is now being taken into consideration by the committee for the purpose of determining the appropriate remedial measures or sanctions. The Code requires the committee to act as promptly as circumstances permit. While the Senate had just adjourned for a period of two weeks when the Inquiry Report was released, the members of the committee nonetheless undertook their work on the Inquiry Report immediately after its release and substantial preparatory work has been undertaken in advance of today’s meeting.
The Code establishes a clear, fair and balanced enforcement process. That process takes into account the rights of the Senator and the interests of the Senate and all Senators to preserve the reputation and dignity of the institution and the office of Senator. A breach of the Code by any one Senator reflects adversely on the Senate and all Senators and affects the ability of the Senate and all Senators to carry out their functions.
The Code requires the committee to afford Senator Meredith an opportunity to appear before it. The committee, in compliance with this requirement, has already afforded Senator Meredith with such an opportunity and has also offered him alternative means to appear, either by videoconference or by submitting written submissions.
Subsection 44 (3) states that “Senators shall respect in all particulars the enforcement process established by the Code.” Senators will have an opportunity to speak to the matter once the committee reports its recommendations to the Senate.
The committee will continue its consideration of the Inquiry Report over the coming days and intends to report its recommendations to the Senate as promptly as circumstances permit.
For more information, please contact:
Shaila Anwar, Acting Clerk of the Committee, 613-991-0719