Canadian News Jun 24, 2020 4:08 PM EST

Former senator’s sexual harassment victims to be compensated with taxpayer dollars

The sexual harassment investigation of former senator Don Meredith has led to compensation for his ex-staff that will be paid for by Canadian taxpayers.

Former senator’s sexual harassment victims to be compensated with taxpayer dollars
Quinn Patrick Montreal, QC
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The sexual harassment investigation of former senator Don Meredith has led to compensation for his ex-staff that will be paid for by Canadian taxpayers, according to Blacklock's Reporter.

“We would like to assure you the committee recognizes the urgency of the matter and is treating it on a priority basis,” wrote chair of the committee, Senator Sarabjit Marwah in a letter to senators.

So far, committee members have declined to comment however the claims will be discussed on Thursday in a meeting by the Senate committee on internal economy.

Meredith resigned as a Senator three years ago after being accused of having sex with a 17-year-old schoolgirl. Following that accusation, a 2019 report by the Senate Ethics Office detailed complaints from six former female staff members who worked for Meredith that involved unwanted hugs and kisses, as well as an incident where Meredith put his hands under a woman's skirt and another where he "took out his genitals" in front of a female employee.

He now works as a landscaper and is based out of Toronto.

Meredith has denied all accusation and no charges have ever been laid. “I have no reason to doubt the credibility of the six former employees,” wrote Senate Ethics Officer Pierre Legault.

The report also included accusations that Meredith allegedly told one female staffer to “make sure you look good”, asked another employee "What are you wearing? Can you send me a picture?" during a phone call after work hours and called one colleague a “bitch.”

Meredith also pointed to a female constable's handcuffs and said, “You should come back to my office there and we should try them out together.”

The Senate offered each of the complainants $5,000 in compensation however Toronto lawyer Brian Mitchell, who represents two of the complainants called the settlement inadequate. Mitchell did not comment on what he felt was a fair compensation at this time.

On February 25, Mitchell wrote a memo to senators, writing, “these unfortunate events occurred over six years ago”

“Arbitration or the appointment of a judge to oversee a review and recommend a solution was the ideal response several years ago!” wrote Mitchell. “That ship has left the port.”

“Canadians have no patience with committees that stall endlessly and do not deal with these sensitive issues,” continued Mitchell. “Many other institutions, both ecclesiastically and publicly, have dealt with these issues either judicially or by out-of-court settlements.”

“Imagine if this happened to one of your sons or daughters,” wrote Mitchell. “Would you be so patient?”

The Senate has recommended the creation of a confidential hotline for harassment complaints.

On February 6, during a hearing of the committee on internal economy, Senator Tony Dean (Ont.) said “The Senate of Canada does not get a pass,” He added, “People have been hurt in this institution. They have been bullied, they have been harassed. We know that.”

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