OTTAWA: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it is up to the Senate to decide how to handle the case of a senator who used the prestige of his office to engage in a sexual relationship with a teenager.
The Senate ethics officer says Sen. Don Meredith violated the chamber’s code of ethics in his relationship with a vulnerable young woman.
Trudeau, speaking during a news conference in Houston, says politicians have to show themselves worthy of the public trust, but added that it’s not his job to get involved in the Senate’s business.
Trudeau has done his best to cut partisan ties with the Senate, dropping Liberal senators from his caucus and appointing so-called independents to the upper chamber.
He says he wants a Senate independent of the Commons, which ultimately limits what he can do about a misbehaving senator.
Trudeau says Meredith’s case is one for the Senate leadership to deal with.
“It is not for me to weigh in how the Senate should continue to conduct itself,” he said.
Lyse Ricard, the Senate ethics officer, said in a report released Thursday that 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.
The report said Meredith used his Senate cellphone for explicit chats with the young woman, described as “Ms. M.” He tried to help her land an internship on Parliament Hill and offered other help.
“Sen. Meredith brought into the relationship the power and influence of the office of senator, while Ms. M was a vulnerable teenager,” Ricard wrote.
She said she believed that Meredith, an ordained minister, had sex with the woman at least once before she turned 18 and twice after she turned 18.
The report said Meredith acknowledged having sexual relations at least once with the woman after she turned 18.
The Canadian Press