‘ Racism has played a role in this ‘- Senator Don Meredith

Don Meredith

Senator  Don Meredith has broken his silence over  recent calls for his resignation

The Jamaica-born senator  who was found to have breached the senate ethics code by engaging in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a young woman that started when she was 16 years old, said several days ago that he was not ready to resign.

Since the senate ethics report was released two weeks ago, there have been calls from fellow senators and others for his resignation from the Red Chamber.

Speaking out for the first time since  the report  was released, Meredith  told the Canadian Press news agency that he was taking leave of absence from the Senate on the advice of his doctor, and would be considering his options in the coming days and weeks.

The senator  has also said  that he believes he has been the victim of racism since the allegations about his affair first surfaced in the summer of  2015.

Where individuals of colour rise, he said, somehow they’re taken down —whether its “self-inflicted or orchestrated.”

“Absolutely, racism has played a role in this,” Meredith said. “This is nothing new to me. There is always a double standard that exists in this country.”

Meredith has begged forgiveness for his ” moral failings ” over his sexual relationship with the teenager. He has apologized to his wife, children, his fellow senators and “all Canadians” for the relationship that took place with the woman known only as Ms. M.

A report by senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard found that Meredith  did not uphold the highest standard of dignity inherent to his position by having an affair with the young woman described in the  report as ” Ms M.”

“Senator Meredith drew upon his weight, prestige and notability of his office, as well as his relative position of power as a much older adult, to lure or attract Ms M, a teenager who, by virtue of her age, was necessarily vulnerable” Ricard said in her 33-page report.

The report notes that Meredith first met the teenager at a Black History Month event at a church in Ottawa in February 2013 and then proceeded to have a relationship of a sexual nature with her until May 2015.

Meredith had denied many of the allegations made against him by Ms M but when presented  with extensive evidence, including logs showing contact he had with her  on his senate-issued cell phone, he conceded he had sexual intercourse with her on one occasion.

Ricard launched her investigation at the request of Leo Housakos, then Speaker of the Senate,  who believed that the alleged relationship between the senator and the teenager , if true, would constitute ”  conduct unbecoming of a senator” and would require disciplinary sanctions.

Meredith who was appointed to the senate by former  prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2010,  was removed from the Conservative caucus after the allegations came to light following an investigation by the Toronto Star newspaper.

Senate sources have said they believe the upper chamber does have the power to expel a senator and declare the seat vacant, and do so by a simple majority vote.

The Caribbean Camera  tried several times to contact Meredith at  Pentecostal Praise Centre in Vaughan where he preaches and at the Greater Toronto Faith Alliance Centre  where he serves as Executive Director, but could not reach him..